I am wondering if the chicory I am growing as a mineral accumulator (dynamic accumulator in some books) is really suitable for my perennial veggie polyculture. The plants around it are not growing as vigorously as some others in the patch, which may be down to light levels or differences in fertility, or perhaps the chicory.
Forest gardening books extol chicory as an excellent accumulator of minerals from the subsoil, these are transferred into the body of the plant and ultimately fed back to the soil when the leaves die back (or are taken off and used as mulch). I have been leaving mine to grow to see what they are capable of. They have turned into massive towering spires bearing buds that hopefully will bloom soon. However the plants around them – some oca and sorrel mainly – are not doing well and I wonder if the chicory is greedily sucking the life out of the soil and starving its neighbours.
Action – I am going to watch and wait a bit longer. I will mulch the others as soon as I can with something nutritious and if they continue to look a bit below par I will cut the chicory back and feed it to them. It may be that chicory is great as a mineral accumulator in a forest garden where trees are the main “competitors” but not in the context of a vegetable polyculture.
Here is a picture of the chicory and neighbours taken this afternoon. Apart from possibly starving the other plants one of the chicory’s spires (at the back of the plant) is falling over in the wind and rain and squashing them as well!