I'm in Camas, WA, about 1.5 hours from you. I just have a 0.5 acre backyard food forest/forest garden. It is still a work in process but most of the "anchor plants" are at least 10 years old and producing well. My current project is a raised hugelkultur no-till keyhole-shaped veggie bed. Otherwise everything is perennials. I have no animals but I attract a lot of wild birds who do all of my fertilizing and most of my pest control. And occasionally bring me new plants.
I have learned a lot and have made quite a few notes on what I've learned, which I am happy to share. I am not a PDC designer. My main inspiration has been Toby Hemenway. We had a permie-aware designer do a design for us 15 years ago. At the time we were focused on natives but as I learned about permaculture I substituted edibles for some of the natives in the design. The combination of natives and edibles (and native edibles) seems to work well for me.
Re: very few bats, that is probably because I don't see any suitable bat roosts. Although I bet the bats have explored every nook and cranny of your house exterior to find a suitable roosting spot. If you put up a bat house I think your chances of occupancy are very high. And yes they eat mosquitoes too but will go for bigger insects first.
Re: birds, it would be great if you learned to identify them and logged them via ebird etc. The free Merlin app does a pretty good job of identifying birds via their calls and you can post to ebird from it. I bet there are very few data points from your area, I think your observations would be quite useful to bird science. Speaking of bird science, here is an intriguing device I saw on kickstarter: https://www.terralistens.com/ Basically an automated ebird, but you can also use it to listen to your birds on your bluetooth speaker or phone. A bit geeky, but if it becomes popular it will be quite useful to science. I'm curious if you have ever seen or heard a Vaux's swift in your area? If so I have another project for you to consider, which I am building for my yard (vaux's swift roosting cylinder made from used cedar fence boards).
Re: birds eating your crops, that will definitely happen. Often, planting more "bird food" just means more birds will come. I use fine mesh over the plants I'm not willing to share such as blueberries. Otherwise when I see birds start pecking on my fruit I know it is time to pick them. But if a whole flock shows up they will get it all. So I have to watch very carefully to only let the birds get a little. And they do of course come back after I harvest and get anything I missed, which is fine with me. You can of course do things to discourage birds such as raptor perches, predator bird houses, etc. But you'll need to observe and think through the long term impact of those things.
Sounds like an awesome adventure! I am also just outside of Portland, on 0.7 acre with 0.5 of it in permaculture food forest/forest garden that is about 12 years old and doing great overall.
Of course your new place is in a very different environment, but I'd be happy to share what I've learned. I started writing down my "lessons learned" a few months ago and it's up to 12 pages which I'd be happy to share.
I bet your pond & wetland attract a lot of wildlife. My first thought when I saw the pond photo was "bat house". I've built about 15, and lead bat walks at a nearby wildlife refuge. Bats will help cut down on insects in your area, mostly moths and flies.
If I was in your shoes the first thing I would do is find a "wild"/"undeveloped" area near you that has similar conditions as your property and observe it carefully. Learn every plant that is growing there and its function in that ecosystem. Then find plants in the same family or that perform the same functions which are useful to you and which grow in your USDA zone - edibles, materials, etc. Those are the plants that are likely happy to grow there and which will hopefully make you happy.
If you can keep 1" of water on top of the sand, that will keep the plants alive. Although with my filter the important variable is the amount of oxygenated water that I can flow through plant roots. So ideally the water level on top of the sand should be about the same as the depth of the pots. Or maybe you could embed the pots down into the sand?
When you gather your plants, pick ones that are growing at the same depth as you'll have them in the filter.
Also note that birds will be attracted to the shallow water in and around the pots for drinking and bathing. This is great for having more birds around, which do most of my pest control and fertilizing, and bring new plants to my yard. But they also poop wherever they go, probably including in the water. If birds have access to your filter currently, they are probably already bathing and pooping in it. With plants you may have more birds in your water. But I imagine the plants & root microbes are taking up most of the bird poop. So like everything else, there is a balance there.
I have never drank any water from my pond. On a hot day it looks very tempting because it is so clear. But I'm sure under a microscope I would find a lot of life which I wouldn't want to ingest. However my dog drinks from the pond every day and she has no issues.
Michael Helmersson wrote:Our drinking water filter (biosand filter) is designed to maintain a 1" layer of water above the sand. This is the "bio" layer and it is recommended that, in order to keep the biology in there fed, you add a batch of water every day. I assume that it would be possible to plumb your filter to have the same 1" layer of water on top and that it wouldn't evaporate away in 24 hours.
The plants can probably survive a few days without water. I'm not sure how long the microbes could survive without water. Some are probably adapted to living in "vernal pools" i.e. can survive a dry season. But others may die. And of course without water flowing, the suspended algae will grow.
I would just give it a try and see what happens. I'm guessing you don't have power nearby which is why you want a hand pump? Personally I would set up a solar pump. I wouldn't want the pressure of knowing that if I don't get out there and pump some water, things are going to die. I like to spend time doing other things, like going on a vacation :-)
I would also use native plants from a nearby pond or lake. I used a tall pond grass.
Michael Helmersson wrote:Would it be possible to use a biofilter like this with a manual cistern pump instead of an electric pump? I'd place the pump somewhere that would encourage frequent short bursts of pumping which could feed a surge tank that regulates the flow and smooths out the ups and downs. Conceivably, there'd be long periods with little or no water transfer, so I wonder if the biological layer would suffer. We use a biosand filter for our drinking water and it seems like the same concept. I like your idea, but I feel the urge to complicate it.
I'm in Camas, on a 0.7 acre suburban lot, with a 10 year old food forest (ongoing) in my 0.5 acre backyard. I'm not looking for a homestead, but when you get to that point, I'd be interested in sharing plant material, local knowledge, and/or trading surplus. I have about 200 varieties of edible perennial plants (e.g. 54 varieties of apples), and most of them are mature enough to produce.
My main goal was to be able to harvest something from my food forest any day of the year, and I am close to that goal. What I didn't think about was whether I would have time to harvest all of it, and the answer is no (I also have a full time job). I think in order for permaculture to thrive in a suburban environment, there needs to be some kind of system to facilitate trading of unharvested surplus. I haven't figured that out yet though.
I have been canoeing and kayaking in your "crik" many times, that is a beautiful area. I grew up in Newport 1968-1985. I recall a George Galstaun in high school, perhaps a relative.
I'm curious if you have any permaculture projects going? I didn't know about permaculture when I lived in Newport but my mom was a hardcore gardener. The coastal weather was always a challenge. Looking back I wish I would have built my mom some raised beds, I think her plants would have been a lot happier. Just curious what you may have found that worked well at the coast.
I hope that you find a buyer that will carry on your land ethic!
Daron pretty much covered it all. I would only add a couple of thoughts. I am not an expert on wetlands nor Washington state/Thurston County laws, but I have been involved with a lot of habitat restoration work on nearby USFWS refuges since 2006.
- The site strikes me as having huge wildlife + permaculture potential. Please keep track of your "lessons learned" and share them.
- Maybe reach out to the local Conservation District. I'm guessing that they answer questions like yours all the time. Most of them also have native plant sales with extremely reasonable prices.
- Like Daron said, removing invasives and planting natives will probably make everyone happy, especially the wildlife. I highly recommend that you include a lot of native edibles in your plans. My favorite is Evergreen huckleberry. The great thing about the natives is that they require no care once established. With a large acreage that is an important factor.
- I would be sure to factor flooding into your plans. The current project at the refuge where I volunteer is designing around the 500 (vs. 100) year flood level. I suspect this is due to concerns about climate change.
- I have done a lot of projects at the refuge and in my yard to help out native wildlife including bats, swifts, martins, turtles, native bees, salamanders, frogs, as well as many native plants. Let me know if you're interested in what I've learned from those projects and/or would like to try them on your property.
I'm not sure what you mean by "seriously", but I think no matter where you land in Cascadia you won't be far from someone who is at least dabbling in permaculture. I am next to Portland and there are a lot of urban permaculturalists there (which made it easy to gather plant material). I'd recommend searching Facebook for the county or city that you are looking at, plus "permaculture", e.g. "clark county permaculture". The size and/or activity of the group might be tell you if that is a good area to search.
I don't have any fish in my pond and I don't put anything into it other than water. But there are lots of tadpoles and small life in the pond that just showed up. It is under trees so it gets a lot of leaves in the fall, which I clean out every few years.
The waste from your fish plus uneaten food will increase the amount of suspended algae. So your proportion of plants will probably need to be higher than mine.
I know that people do calculations to determine the size of the biofilter based on the pond size, number/size of fish, etc. But I would probably just make it a little bigger than you think you might need, and/or make your filter expandable by daisy chaining several drums together or something like that.
I pretty firmly believe that the plant roots are way more important than the lava rock or biofilter balls etc. I don't think it matters much whether the plants are in the biofilter or in the pond itself, as long as oxygenated water is moving through the plant roots. So you might think about ways to be able to keep adding plants until the algae disappears.
Here's the intake filter that I use with my pump:
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024EFYU6/ Yours will obviously need to be bigger but I like this general style. I only clean it once a year. Note that this filter does not filter suspended algae - it just prevents the pump from getting clogged.
As you mentioned, shading the pond will be good for water quality and to keep from cooking your fish.
I also encourage you to include some moisture-loving flowering or edible plants in your pond and/or biofilter. It is great to have a "garden" in my pond that I don't have to worry about watering even on the hottest days or if I'm on vacation. And of course the water has a lot of nutrients that the plants like, so no fertilizing either. You just need to be able to adjust the height of the pot (or the water) to the plant's liking. I have drowned a few plants by not getting that right. And of course if you're going to be gone a long time, you'll need an automated way (or a neighbor) to top it off. My drip system puts a little water in it every day, but you could also use a float valve.
Also a word about duckweed - I once put some in because I thought it would keep the water cooler. Within days it covered the entire pond, and the frogs etc. seemed to be struggling to navigate through it, plus it made my pond just look like a lawn. So I used a strainer to strain it all out. It took a long time because you have to get every single plant.
I have attached some more recent photos without the "Photobucket" watermark.
I am interested. I have mostly perennial edibles and natives (and perennial edible natives). But in the fall I'm going to finish my hugelkultur veggie garden. So I'll be looking for seeds this winter.
What I would be most interested in is information about varieties that people like and that do well here. I have about 250 varieties of edibles and another 100 or so natives. Some are very happy, some are not.
My half acre suburban food forest produces a lot of surplus that I would love to trade, but I haven't been able to figure out a way to do trades that doesn't suck up tons of my time (of which I do not have a surplus ) Perhaps something like this could work?
I would be up for some kind of connection, to compare notes with others in the area and maybe swap some plants or surplus now and then. I am in SW Camas.
I have a 1/2 acre food forest/forest garden that is and will forever be a work in process. I started it about 10 years ago. I have about 250 varieties of food plants, and 40 species of natives.
My biggest issue is surplus. There is no way I can eat all of it, even with preservation. I would be happy to share or sell extras, but I don't have time to harvest all of it. So I pick what I want and the creatures get the rest.
Dave Miller wrote:Most people would say that the cure is worse than the disease, but rubbing stinging nettle on my arms every day during allergy season helped me a lot. Obviously you need to have a patch of it in your yard in order to try this.
I believe the theory is the histamine reaction to the nettle distracts your body from the allergic reaction to allergens. It definitely feels like that is what is happening.
Dave, it works for me too. I have a patch of nettles and I generally brush up against them with my legs, and the relief is within a minute. I may have to sting myself a few times a day if my symptoms are very bad, but to be honest, a bit of stinging on my legs is far preferable to being unable to breathe.
I definitely reacted less to the sting over time. Now I don’t mind it at all, it just feels tingly for a day. The only downsides for me were 1) explaining the occasional welts on my arms to my coworkers (I will use your idea to rub it on my legs) and 2) occasionally there were aphids on the nettles which I inadvertently transferred to my arms.
Most people would say that the cure is worse than the disease, but rubbing stinging nettle on my arms every day during allergy season helped me a lot. Obviously you need to have a patch of it in your yard in order to try this.
I believe the theory is the histamine reaction to the nettle distracts your body from the allergic reaction to allergens. It definitely feels like that is what is happening.
In my yard their favorites are (in calendar order):
- salmon berry
- trailing blackberry (the native one)
- evergreen huckleberry
- blueberries, plums, apples, raspberries, etc.
- snowberry (late spring through fall)
- himalayan blackberry
- viburnum "pink dawn" - flowers through late fall and winter
Thus I have year round bee forage. And yes they do forage a bit on warm days in the winter.
I am in SW washington. Our church has a lot of open space and I have discussed the concept of a forest garden with a number of people in the church, including the pastors and the landscaper. With their blessing I planted an apple tree guild as kind of a proof of concept (the guild is doing great).
Several people were interested in growing and harvesting food for our local food bank. So I reached out to the food bank, explained the concept, and asked what types of food would be best to grow for them. Their answer was "anything!".
However nothing else has happened, because some of the most interested people moved, the landscaper found a better job, etc. My wife won't let me drive it, she thinks I spend too much time on our own food forest (she is right ). I would still be willing to help with the design and provide plants and advice though.
The property next door is a small, upscale senior living facility (formerly a B&B). I envisioned an herb and vegetable garden next to them, to entice their chef to visit frequently and take what they want, and in return the chef would report any issues they saw in the forest garden.
If you have a forest garden, you should invite people from the church for a visit so they can see it and quiz you about it. If not, see if you can find one nearby that you can bring them to.
To make it happen, you will need to do most of the work IMHO. Recruit volunteers, organize work parties, do the design, find the plants, etc. It might be good to figure out what goals you have in common with the people in the church. E.g. the food bank idea was of interest to a lot of people in the church. The ideas in the previous posts are also good.
My bees like goldenrod and teasel in late summer. I know teasel is a non-native invasive, but I cut the seed heads off immediately after it flowers which seems to slow it down. The stems are a favorite of mason bees.
They also use snowberry from March - September. I think snowberry is my longest blooming plant.
On unusually warm days in winter, they will use Viburnum 'Pink Dawn' which blooms all winter.
Another favorite through much of spring is my Cascara tree. The flowers are really tiny but the bees go crazy for it.
Here are some of my stone projects. I gathered most of these from properties in town, with permission of course. There is an old rock quarry nearby so a lot of the stones have been shaped and came from old house foundations etc.
Here's a writeup that I sent to some folks in Vancouver BC a while back. This is a sort of tidal power network which includes energy storage, to provide power for coastal communities. I realize that this would not be the most efficient system (vs. a tidal hydro system with batteries), but I also don't think it would kill any sea life and I'm pretty sure that due to edge effects, they would actually increase the amount of life in an estuary. And I don't think they would be very expensive to build. The control software might be a bit tricky, but I am a software developer so I'm not too worried about that. Also since the planters are filled with live shrubs/trees, they would just look like a series of floating islands.
I don't envision these in the open ocean, although they might work in a calm area. Rather they would be used in estuaries that are currently used to store floating logs, or have abandoned docks, or that have large mudflats during low tide.
I will try to make some sketches soon.
One idea that I settled on was to drive a steel piling into the bay, and attach a series of octopus-like arms out from the piling. At the end of each arm would be a concrete floating planter, similar to the concrete docks where I worked. Each planter would be designated as either a 'marine', or 'terrestrial' planter. The marine planters would be empty, but the terrestrial planters would be filled with soil and planted with a guild of native shrubs and trees. From a distance, the shrubs and trees would make the whole thing look like a natural island.
Each arm would have the ability to produce electricity, via gear reduction, air pressure, hydraulic pressure, magnetic pressure (linear motor), or something like that. The arms could be locked in place at any position (probably balanced to keep the center of gravity under control), under the control of some smart software running in a controller either on the piling or at some remote control center.
When none of the arms are locked, the planters rise and fall with the tide, producing power when the tide is rising or falling. Somewhat useful, but kind of boring, and probably not in sync with demand. What is more interesting is when the whole thing operates like a battery, storing energy. e.g. at high tide, an arm could be locked, and then be allowed to produce power (i.e. drop) whenever there is demand, until the next high tide. The weight of the planter (+arm) generates the power. Likewise, at low tide, the marine planters could be locked in place. When there is demand for power before the next low tide, the marine planter would be allowed to float (rise), producing power.
If the marine planter had a valve to control whether the planter held water or not, it could be allowed to fill with water after a low tide, float up to the high tide level, then be locked in place. So it would have the weight of the planter plus the weight of the water.
It might even be possible for the marine planter to be made airtight, providing stronger upward force after a low tide. However since the marine planter is essentially a tide pool, locking tidepool animals into an airtight environment seems like a bad idea. Also leaving them without water for too long would kill them. But the smart control software could account for this.
Of course one piling wouldn't produce much power, but a whole network of them would. Also if you had a whole network, each piling could be simplified to have just one circular planter.
I don't envision filling an entire estuary with these, but I when I was in Vancouver I saw some pretty large estuary areas filled with log rafts, so you already are using a lot of estuary space for human purposes.
I imagine that many animals (especially birds) would choose to roost and perhaps even nest in the terrestrial planters. Likewise, marine organisms would live on/in the marine planters. It might be wise to provide a little space between planters which may not rise and fall together, to avoid pinning some creature between them. Likewise they would need to be clearly marked "don't tie your boat here" otherwise the boater would find themselves being lifted into the air or pulled underwater.
I realize this is an unproven, fairly wacky idea, but if the controls were smart enough, I think it could really work well as a tidal power source with built-in energy storage.
Just wanted to give an update on my dream of finding a restaurant owner or foodie to share my surplus with.
There is a relatively new foodie-oriented restaurant here in town. I saw an interview with the chef who talked about how they were trying to get their ingredients locally, and toward the end of the interview they walked from the restaurant to the weekly farmer's market to get supplies for dinner that night.
So I reached out the restaurant, explained my food forest and my desire to share my surplus. The owner responded right away and came over a few days later. He was very interested in some of the things I have (though had never heard of them), and took some home. I have since mentioned to him when other things are ripening, but he has been too busy to come pick so I just pick some extra for him, and put it out on my porch for him to pick up. That has actually been working out pretty well. Not quite what I envisioned, but definitely moving in that direction. The reality is that I don't have time to pick everything, and neither does he.
His staff has done a great job utilizing my surplus (how often have you had cornelian cherry + sea buckthorn vinaigrette). His customers seem to enjoy his staff's skill to come up with some really amazing things from the unusual things I am growing. I have also shared surplus from my foraging ventures, e.g. plums and nuts from my neighbors/neighborhood.
My wife and I went there for dinner last week. They didn't charge for our drinks, which is the sort of "barter" I was hoping to have.
I realize that most restaurant owners probably don't have time or interest to deal with a backyard food forester like me, but I think it works because the restaurant is pretty small, and they like to constantly change up their menu and experiment.
Interesting thread, I'll read through it all tonight.
When I was young I worked at a fuel dock for boats, in a tidal estuary. Occasionally a huge log would get caught in the slip next to the fuel dock. Sometimes we would tie a heavy rope around the log and a piling at high tide, and watch as the tide "lifted" the log onto the dock. We're talking about logs 4 feet in diameter.
I spent a lot of time thinking about how tidal energy could be captured. I keep coming back to one idea using floating concrete planters and pilings. I have a writeup and sketches somewhere, which I will dig up and post here.
Do you, or anyone in this thread, think that there is a role for the backyard food forest to contribute to our local food system?
I have been developing my 1/2 acre backyard food forest/forest garden over the last 8 years or so. We have lived here 28 years, so I also have a few mature fruit and nut trees.
I have around 200 varieties of edible plants, including 40 apple varieties grafted onto about 6 trees. Lots of berries, nuts, grapes, plums, figs, hardy kiwis, a few mushrooms, and many other things. Lots of native plants, which i see as the foundation of the whole system. No animals though, besides a cat, dog, and thousands of mason and bumble bees (I don’t have time to care for more animals). I do encourage wild birds, wasps, and snakes, for insect and slug control.
I am finally putting in a raised bed no-till vegetable/herb garden.
Overall the food forest is doing great, I don’t do any fertilizing or spraying, just a little pruning, weeding, pest harassment, and lots of harvesting.
My main goal is to be able to walk into my yard any day of the year and pick something to eat. I am very close to achieving that goal.
However it is just a hobby, I still have a regular job 25 minutes away.
Of course I cannot possibly eat everything I grow. I have been trying to harvest and give away my surplus, but I can no longer keep up. I didn't think about how much time it takes just for harvesting. So the birds and other creatures in my neighborhood are well fed
I have invited friends over to u-pick, however there is something new ripening every few days, which doesn't work with most people's schedules.
What I think would be ideal is if some knowledgeable foodie person came by every couple of days and took whatever they want, leaving me enough for my needs and reporting any problems they spot, making suggestions on changing the plant mix, etc. In return maybe I could get a good deal at their restaurant every once in a while. This person wouldn't need to be a chef at the restaurant, maybe they are just a food gatherer?
John, thanks for reviving this thread. Let me see if I can answer your questions.
John Duda wrote:Dave you got one out of three apple trees to fruit in 6 years. That's considerably better than the war stories about growing from seed proclaim. That's what I'm interested in. Are the results of your efforts better than what the common knowledge tells us? Do your fruits taste better than you expected? Do you get quicker results, smaller trees than the giants they tell us results? Have you grafted to any of your seed grown trees
Actually I still have 2 of the 3 trees I grew from seed. The first one "Miss Jessamine" is still being well received. I have given out hundreds of scions. I'll be taking a bunch to the Home Orchard Society propogation fair on Sunday.
I'd say that the old adage that you cannot grow a good apple from seed is not true. As the saying goes, if I would have known it was impossible to grow a good apple from seed, I wouldn't have done it.
I would say that the fruit is about what I expected. I doubt it will win any taste contests (though the flavor is well above average), but it has other desirable (to me, at least) qualities:
- seems to be quite disease-resistant in my area, which is fairly uncommon.
- has a bit thicker skin, which at first was a negative but the huge plus for me is that makes it somewhat resistant to insect damage.
I did not get quicker results with this particular tree because I didn't know any better. I recently grew some more trees from seed I planted 2 years ago, and I will be grafting them next week. So I am learning :-)
The tree does indeed want to grow big, but I just keep it pruned like my other trees. I have also grafted it onto semi-dwarf rootstock, so I actually have two Miss Jessamine trees now.
Yes I have grafted many varieties onto the original Miss Jessamine tree, they are doing well.
I have not yet named the second seedling tree. The jury is still out as to whether it is worth keeping. The fruit thus far has been fairly small, and I haven't yet won the battle with some creature to leave them on the tree until they are fully ripe.
The tree seems to have a semi-dwarf habit, which saves a lot of pruning :-)
I think it would be great if more people grew apples from seed. It is super easy, and if you end up with only 'spitters', just keep trying.
I just leave them standing until the fall rains start, then cut the heads and keep them in the garage. The birds know how to extract the seeds, no need to do that for them, unless you are wanting seed to fill your feeder.
Natalie Manor wrote:I have the same dream about the sunflowers. The land I am looking at is mostly flat so I was going to do berms with sun flowers the first year. The finch's go crazy for the seeds still on the flower. Fun to watch. Do you just let the flowers filled with seed fall to the ground or do you break them up and spread? When you grow for your birds, do you deseed the flower or just cut the flower head for the birds? Thanks.
They have a few videos in the "About the farm" section. They also have a forum, perhaps you might find something interesting there.
I always thought these folks had a pretty good model & website for selling directly from their farm. I don't know how successful they are, but they have been doing it for many years so it must be worthwhile.
In my yard, things do seem to produce more when they are growing together with their "natural" companion plants & animals. So I think that mixing certain types of trees & shrubs is an excellent idea. I like to visit local natural areas and abandoned orchards, where I make observations about the plant+animal communities which seem to be thriving, then mimic that in my own yard. I include a lot of native plants, which seem to form the "base" of all the life in my backyard food forest.
Of course directly under the trees, the vegetation needs to be mowed if you want to use any sort of machinery to pick up the nuts. But there are plenty of low-growing beneficial plants which can handle mowing/grazing/burning.
Around here, there is a lot of interest in native bees for pollination. I have been experimenting with "raising" mason bees and have had a fair amount of success. They require very little work - 4 hours per year. I sell my extras for about $250/year which isn't bad for a 1/2 acre backyard. I don't know anything about native bees in Portugal, but I imagine there may be similar interest.
I would also recommend growing a variety of nuts. That way you can see which ones are more popular in your area. And tastes change over time. e.g. in my yard I have walnut, hazelnut (filbert), almond, and chestnut. I also forage walnuts, hazelnuts, and chestnuts in the neighborhood where I work. A quick side note - the most productive nut trees I have found are in a dog park. This makes a lot of sense because in most places, squirrels eat a lot of the nuts. But there are very few squirrels in a dog park. So if you have a dog, you might encourage it to chase squirrels out of your nut orchard.
I don't have nor want chickens, so instead I attract wild birds by throwing black oil sunflower seeds under my trees. This seems to provide all the fertilizing my trees need (from bird droppings). I suspect that the birds also uncover grubs (of pests such as apple maggot) while scratching for the seeds. I am hopeful that this will reduce insect damage, but so far I cannot say for sure.
Dave Miller wrote:Just wondering if there are any almond farmers here who are either practicing or are interested in organic, permaculture, or polyculture methods in their almond orchard?
I am coming to the conclusion that the industrial monoculture almond industry in California (around 1 million acres) is going to crash. In the larger scheme of things, this could actually be a good thing, if there are almond farmers who survive the crash - because all eyes will be on them. IMHO the survivors will be the organic/permie farmers. We should rally around these farmers, to ensure that they not only survive, but thrive, and thus have 1 million acres of farmers coming to them seeking advice. If there are no survivors, the farmers will continue to turn to "Big Ag" for solutions, which probably won't be pretty.
In other words, this almond crash could be a huge tipping point to get permaculture methods widely adopted.
I could help by providing materials (hollow stems) and advice on increasing the number of native bees on the farms. I have been doing this on my property for several years and it has been going well.
I am in the process of buying a 40 acre farm in Portugal and am very keen to start a permaculture Almond orchard. On further reading I am a bit worried about the machinery necessary in harvesting, meaning the floors need to be pretty clean and they are costly!
Bought Martin Crawfords new book "Grow your own nuts" and it seems like a good start.
Any of you know of harvesting methods for say 6 acres which wont entail investing in a huge machine? Guess I could employ half the small village for 2 weeks to hand pick?
This is a great time of year to cut blackberries with a scythe. Even the tiny ones are easy to spot if you have a little snow on the ground.
I only have a grass blade, and it works fine. For the bigger vines I slide the blade in until I am touching the target vine with the sharp edge of the blade, then give a quick tug towards myself and it slices through.
Hedge trimmers are indeed helpful for cutting vines into smaller pieces.
I also recommend smashing the vines down with a heavy board, with you standing on the board. This is easiest when they are covered with snow or ice.
I have never dug the roots. You will have to keep mowing/scything/browsing the area for a few years anyway until the roots and seeds are exhausted. After a few years of mowing, the roots die.
There will be a few seeds sprouting every year for decades, just mow them down every year.
We've had some snow/ice storms lately (just a few inches). This makes it really easy to spot every single blackberry plant since most of them still have leaves, while most other things have lost their leaves. Also their stems tend to be perpendicular to the ground, so they stick up above the snow unless the snow is deep.
For smaller plants I like to use my scythe. For bigger plants, I like hedge clippers (hand or powered).
Also if you are wanting to smash them down (e.g. with a board), it is a lot easier to do that when they are covered with snow or ice (due to the weight), and because they are more brittle now (due to the cold).