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Steve Forest
Posts: 22
Location: Dundalk Ontario 4b
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Greetings!

I have 94 Acres in Southwestern Ontario (Zone 4b) and I want to start food forest garden. The land is mixed with bushy area and tall grasses. I am thinking to buy tens of thousands seeds from the following link http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/Forests/2ColumnSubPage/stel02_166259 and plant seeds randomly but I am not sure the survival rate due to high weeds. I cannot till/plow the land because trees are scattered everywhere.

Another option for me is to start seedlings in a nursery area and transplant them later or order reasonable priced seedings from the govenment.

Which way is better?

Thanks,

Steve
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Survival rates are difficult to predict under any condition.  If you could bush-hog the planting areas first, that would give you a better survival %age.  But 10,000 fresh seedlings would be awfully tempting to deer, voles, rabbits, etc after a hard winter.

I believe that for maximum survival, growing them out in a nursery would help.  It is much less expensive to fence in a 1/4 acre nursery than 90+ acres.  It would be easier to tend the plants until they reach a point where they could survive on their own.

The overall labor would be higher, but it would be concentrated on the healthy, viable plants, rather than on a random 50# bag of seeds.  Also, the randomly sown seeds would most likely need to be thinned later on.

 
Steve Forest
Posts: 22
Location: Dundalk Ontario 4b
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Thanks John for the quick reply. If option 1 is not viable I would rather buy seedings instead of buying seeds because I don't live there. I am prepare the property for my retirement maybe 20 years later.

The fruit and nut bare root seedings are 10 - 50 times expensive in some of the nurseries than government support nurseries. Are they 10 time better? I know their seeds are coming from selected parents. 

Thanks,

Steve
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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If you have 20 years to play with, broadcasting the seeds is viable.  It would certainly be much cheaper than buying seedlings.  You would probably need to reseed some for a few years until you reached the density you want.

In 20 years, you would have trees varying from 5 to 20 years, which I believe is better than a bunch of 20 yo trees.  You would probably also have a renewable source of venison.
 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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You might also try putting the seeds in seedballs first.  The germination rate should be higher with seedballs.  But if there are many herbivores they may eat the tender plants.

I volunteer at a nearby wildlife refuge, leading volunteers in planting native shrubs and trees.  We have planted about 20,000 shrubs and trees in the last 5 years, in various plots totaling about 20 acres.

There are of course many animals (it is a wildlife refuge) so we usually put a protective tube over each plant.  The main herbivores are voles, deer, and rabbits.  The tube keeps out the deer and the rabbits, and voles if you put the tube down in the dirt a bit.  We have learned to secure the tube with a bamboo stake, those last much longer than other types of wooden stakes.

We have found that transplanting trees which have deep tap roots (e.g. Quercus garryana) does not work very well (low survival).  So we just plant those as seeds (acorns).

Growing & planting bare root plants is faster & easier than in pots.  Trees that grow from cuttings are also very fast & easy (but those are typically riparian trees).

I have also experimented with using bamboo branches as a browsing deterrent for rabbits and deer (stick a couple bamboo branches in the ground right next to the plant).  This has worked surprisingly well.  Would not work for voles though.

So if you have not already done so, I would do some observing (what creatures might eat your seedlings?), and experimenting with various combinations of seeding and transplanting.

One experiment I would like to try is to do an "accelerated succession".  I can explain later, I need to run.
 
George Collins
Posts: 88
Location: South Central Mississippi
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Two years ago my children and I picked up ~6,000 black walnuts and direct seeded 3,000 of them according to the instructions we were given by a fellow that had successfully used the direct-seed method years before.

If ary one of'em come up I don't know nuttin about it.

Last year my uncle showed up and lo and behold he had several pots full of black walnuts in various stages of germination that he had picked up and placed in 30 gallon(?) pots full of store-bought compost. He planted about a hundred, had some left over and asked if I wanted them. Of course I jumped.   Now I have ~170 one year old black walnuts growing on the back 0.40.

I plan to continue running this play until I have 7 acres of black walnuts planted (one acre for each of my 7 children in addition to the one acre of white oaks for each of them as well.)

Given the amount of work that 170 germinated nuts required to get in the ground and through the year (even while eliciting the help of my own private source of cheap, forced labor), direct seeding even two acres sounds like a daunting task indeed.

94 acres?  I, well, my father has a pasture of about that size with a other 30 already in various types of timber. When I visualize planting a pasture the size of his, the mind recoils at the horror . . . the horror.

How the heck are you planning on goin about planting all them trees?

Please let me know if you pull it off cause I want to copy your method. I thought I was being ambitious considering doing even a full acre per year and all I did was put up a couple corner posts and a few hundred feet of concrete re-enforcement wire.
 
Steve Forest
Posts: 22
Location: Dundalk Ontario 4b
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Thanks for all the good ideas. I don't need to plant all 94 acres for there are about 30 acres are covered by trees already and I need to reserve 10-15 acres for zone 1 and 2 around the future house

I will buy some seedlings and plant them in a well designed area and put my effort to make sure they are survived. But given my limited time, I can only take care one hundred trees per year. Broadcasting seeds (majority of them are pioneer trees) might be the lowest cost solution to cover bigger area and provide biomass for raised bed in a couple of years.

Based on the answers you guys provided, I am adjusting my plan as following:

Find a near by farmer to till the land if possible before frozen.
Plant about 100 seedlings in early spring and plant some vegetables as well.
Broadcast some early succession seeds in late spring or early summer when I have time.

While I am executing the above plan, I am looking for somebody who can help me in the area. If anyone wants a tree planting job at Dundalk Ontario, please let me know.

Thanks,

Steve
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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If you are going to till the land now (or soon), I would advise to plant a legume right afterwards to get a cheap source of nitrogen plus organic matter for your soil.

Austrian winter peas, hairy vetch, or a clover planted now will help prep your soil for the spring planting...Mother Nature does not like bare soil.
 
Steve Forest
Posts: 22
Location: Dundalk Ontario 4b
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Dave in Camas wrote:
You might also try putting the seeds in seedballs first.  The germination rate should be higher with seedballs.  But if there are many herbivores they may eat the tender plants.

I have read about seedballs on this forum and haven't touched the details yet. I will look into it. To resolve herbivires issue, is it possible to plant something they like so they won't bother the seedings.

Dave in Camas wrote:
The tube keeps out the deer and the rabbits, and voles if you put the tube down in the dirt a bit. 

Are these tubes going to block the sun light? Or the tubes only protect the tree trunks?
Dave in Camas wrote:
We have found that transplanting trees which have deep tap roots (e.g. Quercus garryana) does not work very well (low survival).  So we just plant those as seeds (acorns).

Thanks for the tip. I am planting some bur oaks.

 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Steve wrote:
I have read about seedballs on this forum and haven't touched the details yet. I will look into it. To resolve herbivires issue, is it possible to plant something they like so they won't bother the seedings.

I have not tried that myself, but I think it depends on what the other plant is.  It needs to be something that is more tasty and more abundant (year round) than what you are trying to protect.  So you would need to do some careful research to find out what might fit those requirements.  On the other hand, you might attract the entire local population to your property, resulting in more animal pressure than you would have without the "diversion" plants.

You might also factor predators into the equation, once you know what creatures you are dealing with.  e.g. for voles, you can do things to encourage raptors and coyotes on your property, which will eat voles and small rabbits.  For deer, I doubt you can attract a pack of wolves or a cougar, so you would have to use human hunters.


Are these tubes going to block the sun light? Or the tubes only protect the tree trunks? Thanks for the tip. I am planting some bur oaks.


The tubes are designed to allow some light in.  Lately we have started using light blue tubes: http://tiny.cc/vh488
Supposedly plants like the blue light but I cannot really vouch for that.

If you are planting a shrubby tree, you should use a wider tube.  The tubes that we use can be chained together to make a larger tube.  I'm not sure what brand we are using but they are similar to these: http://www.growtube.com/  I'll be at the refuge this weekend, I'll take a look at the box.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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PAR - photosynthetically active radiation is in slower band widths (reds and near infrared) while higher frequency light can be stressful (UV).  That might have something to do with the color thing... things that appear "blue" are reflecting higher frequency light while passing lower frequency light.

The tubes give seedlings a break during their first year or two, but don't stop deer from topping them year after year when they break out the top of the tube.

Another approach is to plant seedlings into existing thickets that are non-passable to browsers... For example, the elk running up and down Geyser Valley in the Elwha travel on the West bank to avoid all the campers.  All the Grand Fir recruitment on this side of the river is found within piles of blowdown trees that the elk can't easily get to.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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in our zone, rabbits and deer will be your worst enemy so you will have to protect your seedlings for several years from the rabbits, and the tops if they are short from the deer until they get big enough to be above the deer reach on his hind legs.

I wrap all my small trees in the fall and take the wraps off in the spring...a big job.

careful of the tree tubes as they can make for weaker trees according to some books I've read..you want your trees to blow around in the wind to get a strong trunk.
 
                                                  
Posts: 8
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I would advise that you start in a small area and extend it out as it develops. It is not easy to do this at all in the beginning phases and you will lose a lot of your plants if you over extend yourself
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 469
Location: Eastern Kansas
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Your state"s conservation department or forestry department might have seedlings for very little: I think I paid $1 a tree for small American Plum trees.


Edited to add: OH! I see you live in Canada!!! I wonder if you could buy some trees from the states? You could always ask!

I do not believe that the states practice any selection for their conservation trees: American Plums grow native down here and I believe they just plant seeds and sell them. On the GOOD side, American Plums form thickets.
 
Steve Forest
Posts: 22
Location: Dundalk Ontario 4b
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Thanks for all the helping hands. I really appreciate the sentiment here. I do plan to buy some seedlings from government and some nurseries for fruit and nut trees but I can only plant and take care less than 200 trees per year. Broadcasting seeds in a bigger area is a gambling because I don't want to wait. I think that's how nature works. I have posted a position on job forum to find someone to help me in the area.

Thanks,

Steve
 
Steve Forest
Posts: 22
Location: Dundalk Ontario 4b
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John Polk wrote:
If you are going to till the land now (or soon), I would advise to plant a legume right afterwards to get a cheap source of nitrogen plus organic matter for your soil.


I have checked weather and it's almost 0 C over night. My choice of cover crop will be white clover/wild rye and they will not be germinated in low temperature as I just learned. If that is case, I will plant them early spring.

Thanks,

Steve
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 469
Location: Eastern Kansas
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It was late last night, and I was a bit meager when I spoke of the American plum trees.

Other than planting them with care, I gave them no care at all. And, pretty much every one took.

I planted them near a creek, and I put some crystals at the roots to prevent the roots from dying out.  The spring was wet but the summer was unusually hot and dry. Even so it looks like every tree survived. I credit the crystals: I got them from the same place that I got the trees.

On the down side, I believe that American Plum have small fruit. On the good side, the Indians ate them and I expect to eat them also.

Next year I think I will try Serviceberries!
 
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