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Reforestation - Growing trees in arid, barren lands - by Seeds and Clay cubes (no watering)

 
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And here is a proposal to help protect the land currently occupied by the pine trees, which are on the way out. Either by fire or disease.

I truly hope it works...

Kostas

 
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Great updates Konstantinos! Seems those plums are growing very slow. Is it not worth it to put some mulch and a little bit of water + organic fertilizer one time so that can have a bit more growth and can potentially access their own nutrients/water further down? Just to nudge them a bit

I'm updating too now as it has been 8 weeks from my last post about almonds from seed.

Originally I had written that I found 47 almonds that sprouted, but that number has now risen to a total of 75 almonds that sprouted. That brought up the germination rate to over 80%. A couple sprouted after a good rainy day a couple weeks ago, and also now that other plants are drying in the summer, it is easier to spot the green leaves and distinct shape of almonds trees I forgot I planted.

Of the 75 total that sprouted, 5 of them have dried and died.

From these remaining 70, I am watering 28 of them. I chose the almonds to water based mainly on the location, choosing the ones that I know for sure I want in my food forest. I am also keeping track of all growth rates. The watering schedule was an interval of 1 month, then 2 weeks then 10 days, with the first watering starting on April 16th, 2023. Now I will be watering once every 10 days through the summer. Note: it has rained 2 times in the last 8 weeks as well. Of those 28, I used a homemade fertilizer at a ~1:50 ratio, which didn’t seem to have any effect.

It's interesting to see the varying morphologies of each tree. Some are long and straight, other ones have a bent stem and then straighten out, other ones have a thick canopy. I've attached a small collage of some interesting shaped ones.

Some Stats:
Average growth rate of not watered trees: +31%
Average growth rate of just watered trees: +63%
Average growth rate of “fertilized”/watered trees: +52%

Some of the trees grew significantly, with the tallest tree now being 47cm! That one was planted on a hügelkultur-type hole I had covered underground, but I think that may just be a coincidence, since other trees that are 46cm & 45cm were seeded in random locations.

Some observations/thoughts:
>Many of the ones that I am not watering are starting to turn reddish, even if they look healthy and large. Some, even with no watering, are still very green.
>My DIY fertilizer is probably a lot weaker than I had thought. I might switch to a stronger one for a couple of them to see the difference it makes.
>The leaf density of the watered ones changed in the new growth. I.e., less leaves per stem length.
>I made a wind breaker out of large stones to surround 3 trees, and one of those trees died, and the other 2 looked very unhealthy. I think the stones keep in the heat and make them dehydrate a lot faster, so I will not do any more of that style.
>Trees are surviving very well even in direct wind.
>Even though the planting plot area is only 3800sq.m, there are tons of microclimates on it, so I am not sure how to best measure what is having the biggest impact on the almond growth. It is obvious that watering makes a big difference, but many of the watered trees are also protected partially by the wind, or different soil conditions, etc.
>I should mulch all the trees I am watering

All in all, everything is looking good! In the meantime, a peach tree has come out too, that I guess is from some buried compost. I have transplanted some fig trees, olive trees, artichoke, blackberries, carobs, and mulberries in the same plot. Will update on those in the future too.
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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Excellent Post Marios (give me some time to read it carefully)

Here is another small vid

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Marios,

Thank you for the update and your effort.

Some comments/observations.

For my community food forest, I don't have access to it by car, to carry water fertilizer etc. And even if I did, one of the constraints of the effort is to minimize input; everything has to be done naturally; green manure seeds, nitrogen fixing trees etc. More brains than brawn. It's a learning experience, that hopefully will also benefit others.

80% germination rate is fantastic, so is the growth of these almonds. You have good soil with plenty of organic matter. This will give all your trees a chance to survive. Next summer, this time of the year, you will know better how your trees are doing.

It's worth noting that young almond trees naturally shed their leaves during the summer, so there's no cause for concern in that regard.

What is the history of your land…has it been plowed or grazed over the last 50 years, or was it fenced in and abandoned.

Growing cypress trees from seed is easy…you may want to grow some and transplant them for protection from the wind.

It will be interesting to see how the other trees you have planted do. You have choose wisely the trees you are planting.

Please continue to keep us updated.


Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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NYTimes article

Diana Beresford-Kroeger says plant trees...imagine that.

Furthermore she says...

"And it’s a very simple thing. It’s very cheap. You can go out and get an acorn. If you really feel that you’ve got a terribly bad back and you can’t possibly use a shovel, then go and get a trowel, get an acorn, and get your kid to plant an acorn. So it’s a very simple thing to do."

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello everyone and hoping for a good summer for everyone.

Here is a brief update on the current activities.

Just a brief run down on the seeds we are collecting.

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello to all,

A small update on our community food forest project.

A very hot summer is testing our young trees.

The survivors will have in their DNA the experience of this summer.

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Another small update on the community food forest.

Just planted 400 pairs of almonds, that were bought last year.

We are taking a chance and planting almonds this time of the year. Hoping that the field mice will not take them, and that a fall rain will erase their location.

If half survive, they will alter the landscape quickly.

Our time investment was small, so a complete failure will not disappoint us.

Kostas


 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Another small discussion about choosing the location of seed placement and how it can have a big impact on the survival of the young trees.




Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Best wishes to everyone for the new season,

We are experimenting with ways to help our young trees survive the long hot summers.

One way we are trying, is to use small seeds like arugula, alfalfa clover etc to to provide ground cover, shade and maybe even moisture for our young trees.

This small video shows one example of how this can work.

Its easy to do and the cost is very small and I think it will become a permanent part of our effort.

Kostas


 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Greetings to all,

We look into the young Oak Trees to see how they are doing this very difficult hot summer. The acorns were planted sometime in October or November.

We have not watered these young trees or cared for them in any way.

They are doing very well. We are going to plant more acorns near each of these pine trees this winter.

We are doing this with the permission and encouragement of the mayor and the village leaders.

This is a very very inexpensive way to address this problem. We are replacing sick and dying trees, that are a fire hazard, with trees that live 1000 years and offer multiple benefits.

This is very encouraging, and gives us hope.  

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Greetings,

Our attempt to plant almonds, early, and to avoid the problem with the mice, did not work out well.

The mice discovered the almonds and it looks like they found most if not all of them. Hopefully some escaped and will grow into trees.

We need to resign ourselves to the fact that we can plants almond trees only by transplanting young trees.

Part of life, we march forward.

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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A great day today !!!

We found one of the cypress trees we planted bare root over the winter.

It survived the long very hot summer without any watering...

This is the 1st one we see.

It means cypress trees can grow here like the almond and oak trees... they are meant to grow here.

It's a huge discovery...

Cypress trees live hundreds of years...


Kostas
1st-cypress-tree-Sep-20th-2023.jpg
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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Greetings to all !!!

This is an update on the community food forest.

We are using the golden rain tree to improve the soil, especially at the northern end of our site.

The golden rain tree has many strengths that can be useful to us here.
1.     is a nitrogen fixer,
2.     its deep roots penetrate the subsoil and allow the water to be stored underground,
3.     it grows very easily around here--just drop a few seeds in the ground and walk away. And finally
4.     it will create plenty of litter and cover the ground and create new spoil.

We are very thankful for this tree.

Kostas




 
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Hi Kostas!
Since a few days I'm allowed to give away one permies apple a day, and I have just given the first post of this thread my first apple ever!!
The land you are describing seems to be very similar to my land, and this thread has helped me in my decision making! To give you an idea: I've been experimenting with almond, walnut, chestnut, oak (quercus ilex), fig, pomegranate, peach, grape, apple, sunchoke, stone pine, dates, avocado, carob, .... and many more! Contributing here with my own stories and experiences has a place on my to do list, so I'll be back with stories and pictures
For now, this message and my apple is my way of sending you my thanks, and my support. Keep it up!
All the best,
Klara
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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What a wonderful gift Klara.

Looking forward to your updates.

Kostas
 
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Hi reforesters!

As I have issues with mice, same as some of you, eating the seeds, I want to try some "seed cages". Some leftover hardware cloth, bent into a tube, bent on on both ends to stop mice from accessing the seeds. The tree and its roots will still be able to grow out of the cage, and in time the hardware cloth will rust away.

The material costs are quite low, but the work required is a bit higher. But if mice eat 90% of the seeds in one area, we may be able to finally save on planting time.
Seed-cages.jpg
Cages around seeds, will protect them from mice carrying them away, and will rust if untreated.
Cages around seeds, will protect them from mice carrying them away, and will rust if untreated.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Greetings to all, and PEACE ON EARTH !!!

We are checking in to see how the young Oak trees managed to survive the tough summer we had.

The young oak trees growing in the shade of the pine trees look amazingly healthy.

This cooperation between the two trees if verified over long periods can be of great help to us all.

There are over 400 varieties of oak trees, and they can form the base for restoring the beaty that once existed on this planet.

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Greeting,

We revisited the EK-1 site

Its a pleasure to see the oak trees growing.


kostas




 
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Hello Mr. Karoubas and fellow friends.
Your post made me addicted (in a good way I hope) to this site.
After reading it, I wandered around in my town and found some candidate fruit and non fruit trees to save seeds from.

I got Almonds, Capers (grow on its own everywhere), Medit. Redbud, Prosopis Farcta, Caesalpinia Gilliesii and Honey Locust (the latter four are N fixating as far as I found).
I sowed multiple seeds of different trees in many locations ( a hilltop, almost barren public park, abandoned -or not- lots), before a heavy rain two days ago, and I hope most of them will establish well in our climate (14" of precipitation, November through April or May), I will go with figs and pomegranates next year I hope.

Some plants that thrive on neglect are Oleander (native?) and Chinaberry (non native) but I didn't bother with them because both are poisonous to humans and livestock and the latter is allelopathic, should I use them?

My town is located in north of Syria.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank you for writing Muhammad,

Best of luck to you seeds and you.

Please keep us posted. Even if they don't sprout or if they have difficulties in the summer.

Persistence is very very important...and love for the land and all creatures on it.

If possible find oak trees and plant acorns. Holly oaks in particular...quercus ilex.

Kostas
 
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The nearest forest to me is about 60km away, and I'm not sure if I can find any oak species there.

I don't know what the natural ecosystem was like before agriculture expansion, but what motivated me to do this are various reasons including: there's a lot of bare lands around us, the water table is lowering year after year, plus I noticed the loss of various native plants species, and the only thing I can do is your post's idea.

So I'm improvising with what I have locally to increase the green cover as much and easy as possible.

I just found an environment Facebook group in my area, I'll see if I can source other seeds types.

Do y'all think that native species are better than non natives in what we're doing?
 
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I got sucked into this thread and feel like thus idea of a mostly hands-off food forest would be ideal for our property. Thirty years ago, before my parents bought the property in Boundary county ID, the land was clearcut. Ever since it's been dry every summer. That gets exacerbated by the extremely sandy ground we have. I would love to turn a majority of it into a moderately wild food forest. We already have a reliable plum tree and apple tree. Plus a developing cherry tree.

Would it be prudent to start by getting native conifer seedlings from the forest service? They could be scattered sparsely before planting seeds for fruiting bushes and trees. Then plant shade liking natives such as Oregon grape (which we have in the dark areas already) after a few years. Right now the area is dominated by grass.

These are some images of the land. Early spring and late summer.
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hey Ben,
Good luck with your project.
No to conifers...but yes to everything else.
Start putting seeds down...as many as you can each day...now is the time.

Apple seeds from the apples you eat...plums apricots walnuts pecans acorns wild pear cherry etc

In each hole besides the tree seeds throw in, a mix of alfalfa and arugula seeds...besides being green manure plants, they are edible and they will help you locate the young trees that will sprout.

Keep us posted.

Kostas
 
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Long into hot summers morning dew collects on thé white clover i grow in the veggiegarden as a groundcover.
Alfalfa has a deep taproot, but preferss limey soil. I'm on granite but have one that does well on if. Some old variety.
In Spain i've seen they dig craterlike structures of a méter and plant in the middle. I guess they harvest most water like this in case of a rainevent.
I've planted quite some rootbits of black locust/ robinia pseudo acacia.
Incredible growth out of five cm bits of root. To two mèters easily.if given soil and water.
But some i planted next to apple trees for chop and drop in future. In sun, it was a cold to normal summers in France, with quite some rain. I've seen the mess it was in Greece, thought of you couple of times.
Hopefully people sée the importance of tree planting now
 
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Hey Ben,
Good luck with your project.
No to conifers...but yes to everything else.
Start putting seeds down...as many as you can each day...now is the time.



Why no to conifers? The landscape here is dominated by them. Would the needles have a suppressive effect on the less aggressive leafy trees? I do know cedar tends to be mildly poisonous to other plants. In the mountains around here I see birch and whatnot scattered amongst the native pines. They generally do rather well where they get established. I like a well-placed ponderosa.
 
Hugo Morvan
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Ben. Sorry to chime in, i feel inclined. Not speaking for topic starter. Where i live decideous forest gets replaced by Douglas fir. It's leafs keep evaporating during winter. Big monocultures kill the biidiversity leaving ''forests'' without birds and wildlife.
Scientists say the extra water take up these rapidly growing trees are cause for lowering watertables.
Disastrous for establishing leafy trees in hot summers.

Also i've obsrved the layer of needles does not compost well. It just sits there acidifying soils further and keeping seeds from sprouting.
No mycelia breaking it down, hardly soil build up.

If it's native and all you have , what's not to like? But given the choice...

As a permaculturist i'm looking to build up soils. Environ mentalists hate me for planting non native ''invasive'' robinia pseudo-acacia/black locust.

It's all a matter of perspective. I want soils with nitrogen fixed into the soil food web, they want poor soils to garantee endangered species survive.
 
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Hugo Morvan wrote: Big monocultures kill the biidiversity.



Yes, indeed. It would certainly be foolish to perpetuate a monoculture. The local logging industry is already trying to ramp up production that way. But it would likely be beneficial to get a few fast growing pines to cool the area down a bit. Don't want the slower growing varieties to get struck down in infancy.  At least for the ones that can't handle it as seedlings.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Greetings to all,

All the best to everyone,

We visited the ancient oak forest in central Peloponnese. The oak forest of Foloi.

What a place....it's possible  to turn the barren hills of the earth into this.

It's not hard.

Kostas

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Konstantinos Karoubas
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Greetings to all,

We mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating.

It appears that the common oaks like to grow initially in the shade.

If you have no shade available from shrubs etc., plant the acorn on the north side of a rock, as shown in the photo below. We had a horrible summer this year, but this young oak tree survived.

This doesn't apply so much to the evergreen oaks or the holly oaks.

Kostas
oak-tree-in-the-shade.jpg
Rick n the oak tree
Rick n the oak tree
 
Hugo Morvan
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Hi Kostas, so it's a big rock providing some shade and run off rain...
How do you feel about adding more rocks, best flat ones put around a seedling which aim rainwater towards the tree?
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Good point Hugo,

I guess it depends where you are.

If you are in dry arid climates, like Muhammad and me, then shade give the young trees a better chance to survive that critical 1st year.

For us, young trees from seed (without watering), surviving these hot dry summers, is a miracle.

But if you are at high elevations, where the summers are short and get more rain, I would say don't bother. Or, if you are in a northern location with some rains in the summer... don't bother.

So for you or Ben Taylor, I would say skip the stones and use the time to plant more seeds.

But test this out to see how it works out.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Greetings everyone,

Here is a small vid with a discussion of Holly Oaks or Holm Oaks or Quercus ilex.

It's an evergreen oak that some of it's characteristics can be very useful for us.

It's ability to spread out and cover the space around it is of interest.

The other common oaks trees don't appear to have this ability.

I see us planting this tree on hilltops that burned, and letting this tree cover the area over time.

The planet, our home, is running a temperature and we need to cool it asap.

If anybody has any experience or specialized practical knowledge, by all means enlighten us.

Kostas



 
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Looks like a shrub more than a tree. Hardy leaves, keeping the soil shaded. Nice one.
Shame it doesn't sucker out like plums or something. Then it would be possible to take rootcuttings like with robinia pseudoacacia.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hey Hugo,

I am so lucky to have found these 4 Holm Oak trees in the city, right next to a shopping mall.

They are very adaptable trees.

I know of one growing in southern Greece, right next to a water spring, with good soil…its huge…10 to 15 meters high.

Then there are others that grow at the slopes of Mount Olympus. They are 3 to 4 meters high, and they grow close together, totally covering the hill side.

Others grow at the side of a mountain in the Halkidiki peninsula, and they are part of a dense forest that has a large variety of trees including pines.

At the island of Ikaria, there is an old forest of the Holm oak trees…they call it the Randi Forest...google it to see pictures.

So it's an adaptable tree that may help us reforest barren areas in arid zones.


Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Greetings to all, and a happy healthy and peaceful new year.

It appears that storing acorns in damp sand is effective in keeping them alive and viable for planting.
It gives us another month to plant them. It's important for us. Instead of having to plant all acorns immediately after harvesting, we can extend the period that we can do the planting.

We are not under the gun to finish !!!

Kostas





 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello everyone,

Another small update.

A year ago we transplanted a few Cypress trees we grew in flower pots.

They were planted, bare root into wet soil...the whole procedure took a minute or so.

They survived the very hot summer of 2023 without any watering or care at all. The summer of 2023, and the spring and the fall, were unusually hot and dry.

Their survival, without any watering or care, is an indication that the cypress tree may join the oaks and the few other trees that we rely to repair the landscape.

Time will tell. Over the next 5 years we will continue to experiment with this tree.

Cypress trees live 1000 years, they are drought tolerant and don't catch fire easily.

All great attributes.

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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This will probably be a futile effort. Definitely a multi-year effort.

This abandoned stone quarry has been like this for at least 75 plus years.

It's a deep scar on the earth, visible from far away.


Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Well said !!!

TREES = RAIN

He touched on many items...trees prevent flash floods...clean the air etc.

And he concludes ,

Plant more Trees

Kostas

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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A small update on the storage and planting of acorns

Kostas

 
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