Friday, November 30, 2012

Dynamic Accumulators

Comfrey leaves
As we continue to work on improving our soil, we are learning about plants that gather micro and macro nutrients and minerals through their root systems and store them in their leaves.  These plants are called dynamic accumulators and can be used in the garden for many purposes.  They can be used to detoxify the soil and for gathering specific nutrients and minerals, bringing them up from deep in the ground through their extensive root systems.  We can use them as fertilizer for other plants that may be lacking those particular nutrients by cutting down the nutrient rich leaves and spreading them as a mulch or adding them to the compost pile.  Many of us are familiar with nitrogen dynamic accumulators such as clover which can fix nitrogen in the soil, restoring soil fertility.  

By planting certain dynamic accumulators that bring up calcium from the soil in a bed with plants that need extra calcium, you can create a symbiotic relationship allowing plants to flourish in a sustainable way.  Growing dynamic accumulators throughout your garden is a great way to fix deficiency in your soil as well as add diversity through their multi-functional qualities.

Comfrey, stinging nettles, yarrow, chicory  alfalfa, and dandelion are all dynamic accumulators, as well as, medicinal plants that we can use in our kitchen pharmacy.  We are interested in dynamic accumulators and their capacities for healing, not only the human body but also the earth in which they grow.  As we become aware of the powers these plants have to restore the soil and how to use them as compost teas, mulches, cover crops, and companion plants, the possibilities seem endless.  

Here is a list of some dynamic accumulators and the specific nutrients they supply:
1. Sugar Maple, Acer saccaraum K, Ca
2. Maples, Acer spp. K
3. Yarrow, Achillea millefolium K, P, Cu
4. Chives, Allium schoenoprasum K, P, Ca
5. Black Birch, Betula lenta K, P, Ca
6. Birches, Betula spp. P
7. Shagbark Hickry, Carya ovate K, P, Ca
8. Hickory, Pecans, Carya spp. K, Ca
9. German Chammomile, Chamaemelum nobile K, P, Ca
10. Chicory, Cichorium intybus K Ca
11. Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida K, P, Ca
12. Horsetails, Equisetum spp. Ca, Co, Fe, Mg
13. Beeches, Fagus spp. K
14. European Beech, Fagus sylvatica K Ca
15. Strawberry, Fragria spp. Fe
16. Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens Mg
17. Licorices, Glycyrrhiza spp. P, N
18. Black Walnut, Juglans nigra K, P, Ca
19. Walnuts, Juglans spp. K, P
20. Lupines, Lupinus spp. P, N
21. Apples, Malus spp. K
22. Alfalfa, Medicago sativa Fe, N
23. Lemon Balm, Melissa officinalis P
24. Peppermint, Mentha piperita K, Mg
25. Watercress, Nasturtium officinale K, P, Ca, S, Fe, Mg, Na
26. Silverweed, Potentilla arserina K, Ca, Cu
27. White Oak, Quercus alba, P
28. Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, K, Ca, N
29. Sorrels, Docks, Rumex spp. K, P, Ca, Fe, Na
30. Salad Burnet, Sanguisorba minor Fe
31. Savory, Satureja spp. P
32. Chickweed, Stellaria media K, P
33. Comfreys, Symphytum spp. K, P, Ca, Cu, Fe
34. Dandilion, Taraxacum officinale K, P, Ca, Cu, Fe
35. Basswood, Tilia Americana P, Ca, Mg
36. Linden (Lime in the UK), Tilia spp. P, Ca
37. Clovers, Trifloium spp. P, N
38. Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica, K, Ca, S, Fe, Na
39. Vetches, Vicia spp. K, P, N
40. Violets, Viola spp. P

Abbreviation Key

Ca = Calcium
Co = Cobalt
Cu = Copper
Fe = Iron
K = Potassium
Mg = Magnesium
N = Nitrogen (Nitrogen fixers)
Na = Sodium
P = Phosphorus
S = Sulfur

*list from Temperate climate permaculture