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close this bookBio-Intensive Approach to Small-Scale Household Food Production (IIRR, 1993, 180 p.)
close this folderStarting a biointensive garden
View the documentLayout for a small-scale, household level vegetable production plot
View the documentTechnological profile
View the documentThe rationale for deep-dug and raised beds
View the documentWhy deep-dug beds are important?
View the documentDevelopment of rooting systems
View the documentRaised-bed garden technologies
View the documentIntegrated alley cropping bio-intensive garden
View the documentPot-garden technologies
View the documentCommon garden tools

Integrated alley cropping bio-intensive garden

Integrated alley cropping is a form of intercropping vegetable plots between rows of fast-growing trees or shrubs. It is applicable in areas where animal manure/compost is not available. Its main purpose is to provide a steady and reliable source of organic material to crops. Since these hedgerows are legumes which fix atmospheric nitrogen. they add a continuous supply of this element as well as valuable organic matter.

Integrated alley cropping bio-intensive garden

Important Considerations

1. Select fast-growing and nitrogen-fixing trees/shrubs that can withstand frequent pruning.

2. Some potential alley-cropping tree hedgerow species: Gliricidia septum Calliandra calothyrsus Flemingia macrophylla Cassia siamea

3. Orient the rows in an east-west direction to avoid shading of the crops by the hedgerows.

4. Rows of trees/shrubs should have a minimum space of 5 m to allow more space for vegetable crops.

5. Soil should be dug and loosened to a minimum depth of 30 cm.

6. Plant tree/shrub seeds and vegetables crops at the same thee.

7. Pruning is first done after the trees are 9-12 months old. Trees are cut 0.5 m above ground level.

Hedgerows Lopped and Incorporated into Beds


1. Cut the trees when they are about three meters in height or the stem diameter is more than one centimeter. Subsequent cuttings are done whenever leaves are needed or die trees begin to shade the garden plots. Leave one branch/tree longer to ensure regrowth in the event of very dry weather.

2. Place cut branches of tree hedgerows (within leaves) over the entire bed.

3. Leave them in place for two days. This will allow the leaves to wilt and hasten defoliation.

4. Shake branches or use hand to remove remaining leaves. There should at least be a 8-cm layer of leaves over the entire bed. (The branches can be used as fuel for cooking.)

5. Incorporate leaves into the soil to a depth of 15 cm.

6. Allow leaves to decompose for 10-14 days. If possible redig the bed once or twice to turn over the incorporated materials.

7. After another 10-14 days apply necessary soil supplements like 1 kg of wood ash 1 kg of eggshells and 1 kg of crushed bones (where these are available). (Rates mentioned are for a 9 sq m bed area.)

8. Shape the bed and plant.