Alley cropping is either more exciting than it sounds or less exciting that it sounds, depending on one’s disposition.
The above image, taken on April 30, depicts two rows of veggies, occupying the alley between two rows of elderberries and blackberries (elders in foreground).
This is definitely alley cropping on the small scale, but even so, I continue to be surprised by the amount of produce put out by these two rows. The kale (Red Russian) will continue to provide babies for salads and braising. The lettuce (black-seeded Simpson) needs to fill out a little more. Their harvest may be hampered by the numerous echinacea seedlings that came up amongst the baby lettuces. It will be a tough call, because honeybees like the coneflower, and it will undoubtedly impart a unique flavor to their honey.
The alleys of blackberries and elder are where the art of agroforestry comes into play. Interplanted among these shrubs, the farmer can locate plants of shorter stature that suit a broad array of functions: medicinal, native, pollinator, insectary, nectary, food, forage, soil building. Rest assured, you have not heard the last of alley cropping in the agroforestry system.