I am wondering about legumes that can be used to smother weeds. We have used Mucuna successfully but only in open fields. Now wanting to work between young fruit trees and planning on trying Jack Bean but hear mixed reports. Have recently read about Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus) as a possibility. Do any of you on this list have experience using scarlet Runner to smoother weeds? If so, would appreciate your feedback. It would be nice to grow something that is edible…as well as useful in weed control. Thanks
Mucuna is a great smother crop! But I would agree that isn’t great for intercropping with trees. @Erwin_Kinsey or @Neil_Rowe_Miller would you consider scarlet runner bean a good smother crop? Would it potentially climb trees? Glen is in higher altitudes of Honduras.
Some limited climbing of trees is ok because we can occasionally cut the vines. My main interest is its potential as a smother crop. If it is as good or nearly as good a canavalia and we can eat the Scarlet Runner, that would make it a winner in my view.
See: Restoring the Soil by Roland Bunch:
You can read or listen to this great NCAT’s ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture article (LINK HERE) on using Scarlet Runner as a cover crop. They note they did not see great weed suppression in their test plot, but noted two papers that got weed suppression for maize, artichoke, and sunflower intercropping systems. Of course none of these crops were young fruit trees. NCAT also noted this cover crop may require great irrigation to be successful for weed suppression.
However, there was one paper (LINK HERE) that said they saw improved bulk density with an intercropping system of mango+guava+cow peas.
Guinevere, thanks so much for sharing those links. I am not familiar with NCAT. Is it somewhat similar to ECHO?
I apologize for the delayed response. I am not affiliated with NCAT (National Center for Appropriate Technology) so I can only speak on what I learned from their sight. I believe ECHO and NCAT both strive to reduce global food insecurity, and NCAT has several field offices in the US. Here is a link to NCAT’s home page (LINK HERE), NCAT houses several focus specific programs like ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas). It is this program that conducted the study I noted above.