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Forested or Recently Logged: Which makes a more ideal canvas for a food forest?

 
Ian Erickson
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Here is a more theoretical question:

Let us say we have a choice between two pieces of land: one that is a 50 year old forest and the other is recently logged. Let us say that the two pieces of land are identical in every other way. Which one is more ideal canvas for a food forest? If this is more of a question of preference than doctrine, which would you prefer and why?

I could see how this could go either way. The former would be a rather established ecosystem. We would be entering an ecosystem rather than creating it. However, the latter is a blank canvas for design, and the fruit and nut trees would not be competing with much more mature trees for sunlight. Any thoughts?

I should add that in my specific case many of the more obvious reasons for desiring a mature forest such as water retention and shade do not apply as much in the water rich, sun poor NE Minnesota / NW Wisconsin.
 
osker brown
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I've been going through this same scenario in scouting land. One point to consider is that there's no such thing as a blank canvas. Any recently logged land is going to be digging deep into it's seed bank, and depending on it's logging history there could be lots of beneficial (ecologically speaking) and useful plants or there could be lots of aggressive invasives that have little use for humans. Another point is that not all existing forest land is even close to equal. In my own scouting I identified as many of the plant communities as possible on every property that suited my basic criteria before developing preferences. The site I'm honing in on is covered in mature white oak, black walnut, chesnut oak (all good forage crops), and northern red oak (great timber crop). There are also pockets of fairly rare trees like american elm, ash, sugar maple, and short-leaf pine. My intention is to spend the first 1-2 years observing and foraging from the forest before felling any trees, but when the time comes some sections will be totally cleared and replanted. The great advantage of having trees already in place is that the act of clearing brings yields that are usually not considered in the price you pay for the land.

So my preference is definitely for healthy old forest, without any doubt.
 
Dave Boehnlein
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I have a different perspective. I believe permaculture is a design system intended to deal with degraded landscapes (that is landscapes that are disturbed and having a hard time recovering on their own). Therefore, working to convert a healthy forest to food production misses the point when we live in a time where we are surrounded by degraded landscapes (e.g. lawns, broadscale ag fields, eroded landscapes, etc.). Mollison himself said something to the effect of, "Stay out of the bush - it is already in good order."

From this perspective I'd say the most appropriate place for a food forest is a piece of land that has been logged (especially if it has been done poorly and/or repeatedly). Still within this context there are some places where trying to create a food forest will be inappropriate. For instance, here in the Pacific Northwest there are places where the land has a huge seed bank, as mentioned by Osker. Some of these places are trying to return to giant hemlock and doug fir forests. These are shade tolerant monsters. What's more there are areas here in the PNW where the entire logged area is surrounded by these mature giants. To try and grow a food forest, even with the largest food-producing species (walnuts, oaks, chestnuts, etc.) seems like signing up for an incredible amount of maintenance (non-stop attempts by the giant evergreens to grow and push through the canopy. We're better off letting these areas return to what they once were and finding a place that isn't bouncing back so vigorously.

I'm originally from the Wisconsin/Minnesota area so I don't necessarily think this is the case there. In that area there are food producing species in the native forest mix so you can attempt to steer the regeneration of a forested area by planting varieties of native species selected for food production (e.g. black walnut, hickories, butternut, hazels, berries, etc.). Of course you could always choose to create a food forest in an ag field instead of a logged forest as well.

You might want to check out a project in Bayfield, WI called The Draw (http://thedraw.org/). A couple friends of mine have been going to town on a little piece of land and creating an amazing project. They have a nursery, food forests, orchards, gardens, animals, ponds, and all the goodies you'd hope to see on a cold temperate permaculture site.

Good luck!

Dave
 
osker brown
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I definitely agree that permaculture is well suited to rehabilitating abused sites, but I disagree that forested sites are inherently healthy. I just finished 1491 by Charles Mann, and it reaffirmed my suspicions that the eastern forests that so many "environmentalists" want to "protect" from humans are actually a degradation of human manipulated systems. (In the book he also makes a case for the Amazon being the largest, most productive forest garden ever realized.)

Forested sites in eastern north america lost their keystone species (american indians) a couple hundred years ago and are slowly unraveling due to neglect and various abuse (logging, agriculture, introduced pests, passenger pigeon extinction, poor fire management, etc.). Recently logged sites are the same, except that they have been recently deprived of the attempts of the system to regenerate.

In my opinion, both are in need of well intentioned humans. While rehabilitating the most degraded sites may be a noble goal that inspires change (i.e. greening the desert), I don't feel confident that it will end the recklessness of imperial corporate culture. I feel compelled to initiate a project that will be an example of what food production looks like beyond rehabilitation.

As with everything in a permaculture perspective, it all depends on what your goals are. Personally, I intend to harvest as much food as possible while maintaining peak nutritional quality and distribute it throughout my community. I feel a lot more confident in achieving that goal if I have an ecological headstart.

Please don't take this response as defensive, I really appreciate this discussion and I'd love to keep it going. In the end, I believe that permaculture belongs everywhere that humans live.

peace
 
Dave Boehnlein
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Actually, I agree with pretty much everything you just said. A landscape can certainly look like a forest, but be unhealthy. "Degraded" describes a pretty wide spectrum of landscapes. In fact, I don't really consider your average Joe to be equipped to deal with the most degraded of sites (think superfund sites). However, there is a middle ground where the permaculturist can make a huge difference. That's where I'd like to see efforts concentrated. My prior response was spurred by your ending statement:

osker McCoy wrote: So my preference is definitely for healthy old forest, without any doubt.


From my perspective, if it's a healthy, old forest, it doesn't need us to do anything but protect and enjoy it (pick some mushrooms, watch the birds, do a controlled burn, if necessary, since we can't undo fire suppression). Permaculturists will get a lot more ecological bang for their buck by turning unhealthy forests or other degraded landscapes into food forests.

Dave
 
Tyler Ludens
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permaculture. dave wrote: Permaculturists will get a lot more ecological bang for their buck by turning unhealthy forests or other degraded landscapes into food forests.



I strongly agree with this.

 
Max Kennedy
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I am assuming that the food forest is for personal use not as a commercial venture. Also that the idea isn't to reclaim land but to live off it for yourself. In that case the established forest is far more valuable. Assuming that in the forest regeneration you are going to have to plant useful species anyway you can selectively harvest the forest to provide construction materials and fuels thereby creating space. Depending on what is there you may even be able to sell a select quantity to help finance your self sufficiency. The small amount of time needed to do this selective harvest is relatively insignificant relative to the resources it provides. You establish the food forest in the clearings created. Additionally, unless the "forest" is a reforestation monoculture, I'd hesitate to call that a forest myself, it is highly likely there will be zones of "food forest" already on the land. For example you may have raspberries at edges, blueberries scattered, wild leeks, highbush cranberry etc... Properly managing the established forest, perhaps even establishing it as a multigenerational trust, will be faster and easier.

Alternately if time isn't critical and you don't require resources right away then establishing the forest on harvested land will have far greater long term environmental benefit. It all depends on what exactly your goal is.
 
Matt Ferrall
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The logged land might be better for shorter crops that need more sun.I had to cut some of my 90yr old forest completely to create clearings for sun lovers.I really enjoy planting nut trees however and the full grown forest is fine for this.You will need some light so I girdled about a third of the lowest value trees(cottonwoods)to create the gaps.I really dont like that Mollison quote because the idea of wilderness is european.Here in the Pacific Northwest we have massive areas that are now "protected" which means they are just let grow which is Not how the natives managed for food and so they have become less valuable to humans and much of the hoofed animal population.We need people in "the bush"managing like the natives.Im not saying grow annuals and build herb spirals in the forest so it might come down to where you want to focus.Cleared land was too expensive for me so ultimatly you just have to bloom where your planted!
 
M.K. Dorje
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This is an interesting question, and it is similar to the questions that I was considering myself when I purchased my farm 10 years ago. I eventually decided that a place with a mix of open pasture, some mature fruit and nut trees and a woodland area would be best. In my opinion, open pasture makes the best "blank canvas" for starting a new food forest consisting of vegetables in raised beds, orchards of fruit and nut trees, and berry gardens, especially near the house. It's also nice to have a few mature fruit and nut trees on the property so that you don't have to wait so long for these crops and you can see how well certain species perform on your place. And a nice woodland with a mix of trees for mushrooms, lumber and firewood is nice to have, especially in outlying areas. I recommend a mixture of pasture and woodland with a few mature fuit and nut trees. That's what I found here, and I'm glad I looked for a mix. Diversity is always key to my permaculture plan. (Keep in mind that clearing mature forests for gardens and orchards is not easy work.) And transforming recently logged land into a permaculture farm can still be a tremendous load of work for someone wanting to grow their own food ASAP.) That's just my opinion... Good luck on your quest!!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Also depends on what kind of forest. If it's a deciduous forest, you're more likely to have an understory which may contain a good number of edible native plants. If it's an evergreen forest, there's not likely to be much besides trees growing in it.

peachlovingman's suggestion of looking for a place with existing open land (pasture or meadow) and some mature forest, is a good one, though not really a response to the original question. I would personally choose the mixed open and forested land, personally. The land we bought (degraded ranchland) has a few open areas but mostly trees. So we're limited in the livestock we can raise, not having enough open land for grazing. We're not able to clear much land ourselves and can't afford to hire it done.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Mt. goat wrote:I girdled about a third of the lowest value trees(cottonwoods)to create the gaps.


You plant nut trees under the standing dead trees? I may have a silly worry about the dead trees falling on my baby trees. A lot of our Live Oaks are dying of wilt, so we're about to have a lot more "open" land in the next few years, though we'll have to leave the dead trees standing. I've noticed nearby areas with dead trees which have been dead for a few years have a lot more diversity of plants growing on them than areas which are covered with live mature trees. Areas with solid evergreens (juniper) have the least diversity.
 
Matt Ferrall
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Yea its funny but my trees rarely get crushed.My friend abandon his homesteading attempt partly because he got so obssesed with trees falling on his plantings that he blew incredible amounts of time dealing with all the existing forest.Ive got several hunded nut trees growning(slower)under an overstory of natives(1/3 to 1/2 dead).Of those hunderds only a few have been killed.Girdled trees drop their branches dry first and then fall as a log(dry) which causes less damage than falling green at once.The total cost of the dead trees is less than an hour or two of my paid time(seedlings)yet it would have taken years to deal with all the wood and clearing at once.Plus trees are just desighned to grow up around other trees which involves those hazards naturaly .And of course if one gets killed I believe it was meant to be and it helps break up my patterns and look more natural.
 
Matt Ferrall
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I think the type of forest is a huge question.Full grown nut trees would be great but evergreens might be a problem.Evergreens should be grown close together in patches dedicated to fuel/fiber/framing.That way they are forced to put energy up instead of out and that reduces branching/knots.I havnt found them to be compatible with much food but they do represent other potential values to you.A fully grown forest offers potentialy alot of raw materials.saving you money in transport and resource costs.
 
Lolly Knowles
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I have been looking for a simple method to girdle trees. Checking the "rural" stores hasn't shown any sort of tool created for the job and available on the mass market. Or, at least not one that jumps out and says "I'm what you want!!!" When I ask for something on those lines, clerks give me blank looks.

What simple technique am I overlooking? Is my best bet really crawling around on the ground, using a bow saw to cut the first half inch of trunk all the way round?
 
osker brown
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American Indians used stone axes. I'm guessing a steel axe would do the job a little faster.
 
Victor Johanson
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Lolly K wrote:I have been looking for a simple method to girdle trees. Checking the "rural" stores hasn't shown any sort of tool created for the job and available on the mass market. Or, at least not one that jumps out and says "I'm what you want!!!" When I ask for something on those lines, clerks give me blank looks.

What simple technique am I overlooking? Is my best bet really crawling around on the ground, using a bow saw to cut the first half inch of trunk all the way round?


There's this:

http://www.forestry-suppliers.com/product_pages/view_catalog_page.asp?id=1886
 
Lolly Knowles
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Thanks, Victor. I'm sure it's a great tool, given the price. I wonder if the rental store has one available for weekend use? I hate to lay out that sort of cash for a tool that I may not like.

Have you tried one? Is it really quick and easy enough for me to justify spending that sort of money? ~~ For the time being I think I'll still be crawling around on my knees.

Sorry. Don't mean to hijack the thread.
 
Matt Ferrall
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Unless the tree branches low,I prefer to girdle higher up at a comfortable highth.Sure some shoots sometimes spring forth from under the girdle and some types of trees are worse at this than others.I basically walk around the the with a chainsaw twice with each pass1- 6 inches from the other.When the sap is running is best(spring) and the bark strip should just peel off.I come back later to do that with a carpenters chisle and hammer.The saw has a tendency to dig in so I move quickly and stay aware of that.Without the chainsaw,an axe is great and I do alot of small ones in the field with a folding pruning saw.That tool seems abit ridiculous at that price.
 
Victor Johanson
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Lolly K wrote:Thanks, Victor. I'm sure it's a great tool, given the price. I wonder if the rental store has one available for weekend use? I hate to lay out that sort of cash for a tool that I may not like.

Have you tried one? Is it really quick and easy enough for me to justify spending that sort of money? ~~ For the time being I think I'll still be crawling around on my knees.

Sorry. Don't mean to hijack the thread.


Yikes, I didn't even see the price--I just remembered finding something similar when researching the best way to eradicate aspen groves. A cheaper version is here:

http://www.irl.bc.ca/Forestry%20Supplies/axes-tools-2.htm

There is a dissertation on the subject from the forest service covering different tools and methods:

http://www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/pdfpubs/pdf99242809/pdf99242809pt01.pdf
http://www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/pdfpubs/pdf99242809/pdf99242809pt02.pdf
http://www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/pdfpubs/pdf99242809/pdf99242809pt03.pdf
 
Lolly Knowles
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Thanks again! Those prices will be a lot easier on my wallet. In fact, I might need more than one. We need to remove several dozens of trees ranging from white pine, white oak, shagbark hickory and wild cherry. The chainsaw idea has been discussed and may happen with the 10" and larger trunks. If I have a few cutters then I can put my camping buddies to work for an hour to earn their grillers and s'mores.
 
Ian Erickson
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Thank you everyone for your contributions. Thanks to Dave for the link to “The Draw”, they are very close to the land I am talking about (30min). I know I will be given their nursery some business.

I have intermittently concluded a few things from the comments:

1) There is no such thing as a blank canvas when it comes to recently logged land (Dave and Osker)
2) On logged land it is very important to know what tree species were on the land, especially if Douglas Fir was present. (Dave, Osker, Mt. Goat, H Ludi)
3) This hypothetical situation that I posed is hard to conclude on when I have not mentioned what type of forest it is. (Mt. Goat, H Ludi)
4) I take the point that hybrid forest and pasture eliminates much of the dilemma. (Peachlovingman)
5) If I may paint some very broad brush strokes, there seems to be a value or a goal related aspect to whether one should start a food forest in a forested or on logged land. Possible this is undercutting the decision. For example, those who subscribe to the ‘Mollisonian’ belief that we should leave the bush alone and concentrate on degraded (Dave and H. Ludi) seemed to lean more to the idea that logged land would be a better choice. While those who were concentrating more on food production (Osker and Mekennedy) leaned towards forested land. I don't have an opinion about one goal being better than the other philosophically, but I am interested in food production for my family and eventually community. There is a lot of degraded land in N. MN, N. WI, but there is also a lot of decently healthy forest. Rather than confine myself to degraded land, I would like to choose the land the will best suit food production in a food forest.

In an effort to filter out the differing goals (I am especially interested in Dave and H. Ludi's opinion), if you were to share the same goals as Osker and Mekennedy, which do you think makes a more ideal canvas for a food forest? In other words, which do you feel is better for food production in a food forest: forest or recently logged?

My biggest concern in regard to this decision was brought up by Peachlovingman that the forested land would represent much more work then the recently logged land. My concern is that I will be a long way away from putting trees in the ground or that I risk putting trees and bushes in where they will never thrive because the forest is too dense.

The forested land in question in my particular situation is Mixed hardwood Sugar Maple, Red Oak, and some paper birch. The dominant understory is Hazelnut etc.. It contains a decent variety of useful plants. To answer Mt. Goat, I am very interested in planting lots of nut trees. I did not know they grew well as an understory (besides Hazelnut). That is good news! I am foremost concerned with getting useful long term perennials established, rather than raised beds etc. Any further thoughts?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Ian Erickson wrote:While those who were concentrating more on food production (Osker and Mekennedy) leaned towards forested land.


Most food plants require sun to grow. People trying to grow food gardens often complain about too much shade because of mature trees around their yard. Unless you're prepared to remove or kill a significant number of existing trees, I don't see how you can expect to grow much food in a mature forest.

Obviously some existing trees such as Maples and Oaks, yield food. But I expect very few people here on permies make acorns and maple syrup significant parts of their diet. Personally I would want to see examples of people getting significant amounts of their diet from an existing mature forest before I'd believe such a place would be better for producing food than open land. Call me extremely sceptical.

 
osker brown
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While acorns and maple syrup don't currently make up the majority of my diet, they are certainly a significant part (mostly just acorns, I'll be tapping birches and maples for the first time in a couple months). The land I'm looking at is mostly white oak and chestnut oak, which besides being good human foods can also feed animals. We've been consuming a good deal of hickory nut milk, and black walnuts as well. A good portion of the openings and understory is wineberry and black raspberry. There's also a strong presence of white tail deer and wild turkey. In the unlikely event that edible mushrooms don't grow there in quantity, it's an ideal site for production.

Other potential food crops I intend on introducing are ramps, rhubarb, mayapples, and giant solomon's seal.

I am lucky to live near a place (Asheville, NC) where a growing number of folks actually do get much of their food from the forest, and there are rich traditions (both indian and colonial) of foraging and forestry. Call me extremely hopeful!

I am prepared to remove some trees, but not necessarily a "significant number". Much of the site I'm looking at has mature northern red oaks with massive crowns. By harvesting timber from these, and using upper branch wood for mushroom production, I'll be obtaining the finances to afford the chestnuts, hybrid acorns, and hazelnuts that will take their place. There are a couple areas covered in tulip-poplar, which will be harvested for bark baskets and oyster mushroom production, then the area will be planted as a fruit polyculture. Without some initial yield I'd have a hard time buying plant stock.

The property I'm looking at has a couple acres of loamy bottomland with the rest as fairly steep southfacing wooded slope. So we plan on growing annuals and short term perennials in the bottomland while we begin to transform the forest. If we were choosing the recently logged property we looked at, we would be stretching ourselves to start up annual crop systems with no mature forage crops in the woods.

The sites we looked at were not all that similar in other aspects. Honestly it wasn't the recent logging that turned me away from the other site. I was prepared to deal with whichever site we ended up on. A lot of the reason I'm promoting the mature woodland side of this question is that I'm in the process of buying a property with a mature woodland.

peace

 
Tyler Ludens
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osker McCoy wrote:
So we plan on growing annuals and short term perennials in the bottomland while we begin to transform the forest.


That gives the real answer right there. That you intend to obtain and use open land for producing food while you transform the existing forest indicates that not even you believe mature existing forest to be the best for food production. If it were, you would not need the open land and would have no plans to purchase any. The discussion, as I understood it, is which kind of land is the best for producing food, not which is the best for producing income. I can easily see wanting mature forest so one can harvest valuable timber and thus have an income from the land, but timber is not food. Not trying to pick a fight, just trying to point out what I see as inconsistencies in the argument that mature existing forest is the best for producing food.
 
Max Kennedy
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The original question was about creating a food FOREST, not just about raising food. The mature forest is the better place to start because of the better soil conditions and the ability to choose where to make the openings for understory food production. This is in addition to the resources that exist in the mature forest such as lumber for homesteading and some wild foods. A recently logged area has neither resorces nor wild foods and the soil is often degraded and/or compacted. For a food FOREST the mature forest is the better starting place, for immediate high yeild regular agriculture the open harvested land is better. Mixed land was not part of the original question but is of course the best of both worlds.
 
Dave Boehnlein
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Ian Erickson wrote:To answer Mt. Goat, I am very interested in planting lots of nut trees. I did not know they grew well as an understory (besides Hazelnut). That is good news!


Hey Ian,

If nuts are your interest I have a couple other recommendations:

1) While they will grow in the understory, most nut trees are considered mid-successional. That means they grow slowly under a fairly light canopy. If you plant them in a forest of sugar maple (which are late successional) I suspect they will either succumb to the shade or grow so slowly that that it will hardly be measurable. We have buartnuts under red alder at the Bullock's place in the PNW and I've found that they grow very slowly even in those conditions. Every summer I'm removing a couple alders to both open up some light and make mushroom logs. Also, as with many "shade-tolerant" food plants, nut trees are likely to produce better if they get more sun. People talk a lot about various trees being able to handle denser, lower-light food forest conditions, but seldom talk about the production decreases I often notice. If you want serious nut production from an existing mature forest, I would consider clearing a block of space (1-5 acres) instead of plunking one here and one there in spots where you've girdled a maple.

2) I strongly suggest joining the Northern Nut Growers Association (http://nutgrowing.org). They have a quarterly publication called The Nutshell that is quite good. By becoming a member you will also gain contact with all the old time nut growers all over the country. This is a wealth of knowledge that is in danger of being lost. Tap into it while you can!

3) In terms of cost savings planting seedling nut trees makes sense (especially if you've got a lot to plant). However, if you choose grafted nut trees you will probably end up with better production and quality down the road. Nut trees have been bred for consistency (in other words avoiding the "mast year/barren year" trend), quality, high "crackout" rates (in other words, what percent of the nuts come out of the shell in whole halves), disease resistance, cold-hardiness, and more. Grafted trees also tend to come into production much sooner, which helps you to obtain a yield earlier. Unfortunately (for us in the US), the best nut tree sources I've found are both in Canada. Check out Grimo Nut Nursery (http://www.grimonut.com) & Rhora's Nut Farm & Nursery (http://www.nuttrees.com). Even if you can't pony up to have trees shipped to the US (which they can do for a price) their website have an incredible wealth of good info.

4) You may also want to look into the offerings from Badgersett Research Farms (www.badgersett.com) in Minnesota. They have been doing hybridization work with commercial hazelnut cultivars and the hardier native American Hazel. You may be able to grow these in your area. I believe they are also working with developing cold-hardy chestnuts.

Good luck!

Dave
 
osker brown
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:Not trying to pick a fight, just trying to point out what I see as inconsistencies in the argument that mature existing forest is the best for producing food.


Ok, sorry if I was being argumentative, I sure didn't mean to. The point I'm trying to make is that the task of manipulating a mature forest into a food forest is preferable, to me, over starting with recently logged land and growing a food forest. While yes, I will be growing some crops in cleared pasture land that has been tilled and pastured by previous owners, I personally don't consider that to be equivalent to "Recently Logged" as the original question asks. I agree that the prospect of foraging all of my own food from an untended forest is unlikely.

The points I've been discussing refer to my belief that the mature forest portion of the property I'm looking at will produce much more food at the onset and be easier to improve upon than if it had been recently logged. My process of conversion will likely include the clearing of sections at a time (like dave suggests above), so if you're eager to be planting rather than foraging, the logged land might be more desirable for you. It seems to me that if I have open land I must have the financial capital to buy plant stock, whereas if I can obtain a yield of timber to buy the plant stock then I am better off on my goal of producing food... is that inconsistent?

Part of the goal of my project is to introduce native forest foods to my local market on a large scale. On a practical level, I think this will be much easier if I have trees already producing acorns, walnuts, hickory nuts, beechnuts, etc. If I were to buy logged land I would have to invest in fast growing plants to mitigate erosion/evaporation/invasive species issues, put nut trees in the ground as soon as possible, irrigate because of the evaporation issues, and could not expect yields for many years. By the time I was harvesting large quantities and developing processing facilities, I may find that the market doesn't want acorn flour, or that someone else has filled the niche. Obviously I would try to design around such issues, as I said before, the other property I looked at didn't get turned down because of the logging.

peace
 
Sylvain Picker
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Planting on recently logged land seems attractive but there is two points that could cause problems: very high rate of "weeds" growth and Honey fungus, or Armillaria. I have been told that Armillaria could severely damage new orchard plantings done on logged land. Does anybody heard about it ?
 
Matt Ferrall
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The size of the property comes into play as one can only manage a certain amount of acres intensivly.I am able to manage far more acres and while some spots are only a few trees big,other areas with larger clearings are naturaly created(as a forest is rarely evenly distibuted in species).In commercial orchards Nut trees planted in open space are often planted closer (up to 4x)to mimick competition and spur upward growth rather than outward.Eventually it is thinned and this places the larger branches up higher.So planting in open space can require more trees(planting at final spacing will create a wider tree at the base and will result in earlier food production but not more).Also logged land has just had large amounts of fertility removed which might require outside inputs.
 
Dave Boehnlein
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Mt. goat wrote:The size of the property comes into play as one can only manage a certain amount of acres intensivly.Nut trees planted in open space are often planted closer (up to 4x)to mimick competition and spur upward growth rather than outward.Eventually it is thinned and this places the larger branches up higher.So planting in open space can require more trees(planting at final spacing will create a wider tree at the base and will result in earlier food production but not more).Also logged land has just had large amounts of fertility removed which might require outside inputs.


When planting blocks of nut trees I often recommend planting at 4x density for just the reason you mentioned. To save money I also recommend planting mostly seedlings with every 4th tree being grafted. That way over time you will thin down to the grafted trees. In the meantime I find another benefit of planting wind pollinated nut trees at this density is that you will get better pollination earlier since there will just be more pollen around.

As to the fertility, that can depend largely on how the logging operation was done. If the trees were limbed and the slash was left on the site, fertility could still be pretty decent. If they burned the slash or did a whole tree harvest, you will likely need to amend it somehow to get optimal tree growth.

Dave
 
Ian Erickson
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Thanks again for everyone's contribution. I am learning a lot.

Dave: Thank you for all of the information with links. The links look great. Have you tried St. Lawrence Nursery for nut trees? I have heard good things and their catalog taught me a ton, but never tried them. They specialize in zone 3, which suits me perfectly.

I think I have a few intermediate conclusions to add to my last post:

6) I should mention my skills are in foraging so I am sympathetic to some of Osker, Mt. Goat, and Mekennedy's approaches. Mt. Goat made the point that only a small amount of land could be managed as intensively as some have suggested vs. more dispersed and passive food forest methods. This seems correct to me, but not necessarily problematic for others who choose more dense forms of food forestry. For Mt. Goat (and others): Dave mentioned creating a clearing of 1-5 acres. Assuming this is what might be suggested as being managed as an "intensive food forest", is this within the size range the you deemed as manageable? I don't think it would be easy, but it seems manageable to me for a family to have a dense 1+ acre food forest. It seems to me that the dispersed methods, as well as being low maintenance even compared to the orthodox food forests which are already lower maintenance, they are able to work much larger pieces of land. Their zones might be very large. To be able to practice such methods, they must have land. Probably 1-5 acres would be way too small. I am thinking maybe 40+ could be worked the way it has been discussed. If I am correct, I think it would be low risk for a dispersed food forest permaculturist to log 1-5 acres a devote it to a dense food forest. If it turned out a more dispersed food forest worked better for them, it would not matter much. It would be wagering a small amount of land.

7) I see fruit and nut trees as being the most important part of my food forest. I am well aware that much can be foraged as Osker, Mt. Goat, H. Ludi have discussed, but I think fruit and nut trees are difficult to replace if they are not significantly present. They can make things much more predicable, and the family loves eating them more than acorns (haha). From this conversation, and my previous concerns, I think I would be very reluctant to spend my first years planting nut trees (and especially not most fruits) in the middle of the dense forest (Dave, H. Ludi, Peachlovingman, Mt. Goat). I am not saying that it would not work. I am saying that given the short growing season, cold climate, dense forest without clearings, limited sunlight, and heavy precipitation, it seems risky. I would be concerned enough that I could be wasting the money and - more importantly - the time on something that may not produce much food. I could see how it could take many take many years to even realize that it was not working to plan. It seems high risk for me - as an amateur - to undertake planting in a mature forest without also clearing an acre plus for a dense food forest.

8) From 6 and 7, it comes down to risk. If I have enough land to do a dispersed food forest, would probably have the land to also do a dense food forest (little risk). If I have a dense food forest, it will likely work even though there may be lower maintenance methods such as a dispersed food forest (little risk). I think it is likely because of my lack of skill and location's conditions that I could lose a lot of time trying to do a dispersed food forest in lieu of a dense food forest (high risk). If I get a dense food forest going, I can easily start honing dispersed food forest skills. I think there are only two viable initial options for me with in this scenario I have posed. They are: A) logging a clearing myself within a forest or B) purchasing one that is already logged. Because of this, I have to deal with the potential of fungus Sylvain mentioned in both scenarios. I will read up on it.

9) From 8, in an important sense, it is arbitrary whether I logged it or someone else logged it recently so long as it way logged in the same way.

10) Despite Conclusion 9, I think it would be unlikely someone would log the land the way I would. A couple of the benefits in logging the land myself is that: A) See Conclusion 2 on my previous post; B) I can ensure it was done in a way that left as much of the tree on the land as possible without burning it (David); C) I can save some of the more useful trees and bushes as I see fit; and 4) I can clear the land to suit how I would like to use it (Mekennedy, David).

I think this has me, in my situation, leaning heavily towards logging some acres myself initially. It also has me keeping my options open to do less dense forms of food forestry in the future. Any thoughts?

Thanks again to all,

Ian


 
Dave Boehnlein
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Ian Erickson wrote:
Because of this, I have to deal with the potential of fungus Sylvain mentioned in both scenarios. I will read up on it.


Ian, here's a link to a document on honey fungus (http://onlinegardener.com/disease/Honey%20fungus,%20armillaria.pdf). I don't think it will be much of a problem for you in N Wisc. I hear a lot more about it here in the PNW since we have so many conifers.

Also, I've checked out St. Lawerence Nursery. They look great. However, be aware that their nut trees are all selected seedlings, not grafted. While you may get good quality nuts from them, you won't get the other benefits that go along with grafted trees (e.g. earlier production). In my post above I mentioned you could plant a mix of grafted trees and seedlings. You could get your seedlings from St. Lawerence, but you'll still want to find a source for grafted stock (or graft it yourself).

Dave
 
Sylvain Picker
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Sylvain Picker wrote:Planting on recently logged land seems attractive but there is two points that could cause problems: very high rate of "weeds" growth and Honey fungus, or Armillaria. I have been told that Armillaria could severely damage new orchard plantings done on logged land. Does anybody heard about it ?


By the way some strains of Honey fungus, or Armillaria are very edible when boiled then fried, once boiled they take very little room and can be stored frozen. Honey fungus was heavily harvested in Rougemont (Quebec) for family use and there is a commercial potential in that very common specie of mushrooms in Italian and other markets. Honey mushrooms can be delicious when grown on logs of fallen specimen of bicentennials oaks and maples still abundant in small spots, at least in the little mountains south of Montreal. And one advantage is that this mushroom seem to be growing somewhat like a weed and abundantly nearly everywhere, no need to take those heavy and awkward looking Ogfor "Seeds and Compost Planters", take some Seedball mix full of microorganisms and mushroom spores and mycelium , mix it with some seeds and punch holes everywhere in forests throwing that mix in small holes or may I say poquets of seeds and fertilizer (the Incas used their own feces and some are theorizing that it may have caused their rapid decline by disease transmission...).
With Honey fungus there is no need to do the hard work of inoculation that is needed for example with "Sheetake" Mushroom growing. The Honey mushroom could be something able to create some nice small businesses may be !
 
R. Peacock
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Whether the land is logged or not raises another question: Who owns the timber rights to the land? If you think your food crop trees are safe from harvesting, think again. A couple of sites, out of many, to give you an idea if how much money someone can make of your work, investment and land.

http://firewood.com/index.cfm/pageid/21

http://www.buywoodcarvingtools.com/Store/Woodworking

If you buy the timber rights with the property, places such as these could be a source of income/funding. If you have any serious local woodcarvers or wood cookers, they would pay you to let them harvest trees.

For your overplanting and to be culled trees you can wrap some of them to give the "vine wrapped" look to them for staffs and walking sticks. Tie a tight cord ring around the trunk will cause swelling on both sides of the tie for shelaelies(sp) amd knob sticks.
 
Lolly Knowles
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Thanks so much for the links. I hadn't considered the market for folks who smoke their own meats and I don't Ebay, so I had no idea that a chunk of air dried wood was so potentially rewarding! The good news is that I probably can't use all the timber we will have to remove over the next few years. This points up a potential income stream.
 
Kota Dubois
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Sylvain Picker wrote:
Sylvain Picker wrote:Planting on recently logged land seems attractive but there is two points that could cause problems: very high rate of "weeds" growth and Honey fungus, or Armillaria. I have been told that Armillaria could severely damage new orchard plantings done on logged land. Does anybody heard about it ?


By the way some strains of Honey fungus, or Armillaria are very edible when boiled then fried, once boiled they take very little room and can be stored frozen. Honey fungus was heavily harvested in Rougemont (Quebec) for family use and there is a commercial potential in that very common specie of mushrooms in Italian and other markets. Honey mushrooms can be delicious when grown on logs of fallen specimen of bicentennials oaks and maples still abundant in small spots, at least in the little mountains south of Montreal. And one advantage is that this mushroom seem to be growing somewhat like a weed and abundantly nearly everywhere, no need to take those heavy and awkward looking Ogfor "Seeds and Compost Planters", take some Seedball mix full of microorganisms and mushroom spores and mycelium , mix it with some seeds and punch holes everywhere in forests throwing that mix in small holes or may I say poquets of seeds and fertilizer (the Incas used their own feces and some are theorizing that it may have caused their rapid decline by disease transmission...).
With Honey fungus there is no need to do the hard work of inoculation that is needed for example with "Sheetake" Mushroom growing. The Honey mushroom could be something able to create some nice small businesses may be !


I've lots of honey mushrooms that grow on my land and have been trying to figure them out for some time. It seems to me that they one of those mychronizal fungus that live in symbiosis with the trees, especially maples, and when the tree starts to die they invade the trunk. They produce a profusion of mushrooms when tree is dead (or cut down) the first year and then lesser amounts for years after until the rotting is finished. They bloom mostly from the stump and old roots. Generally they sprout around the middle of September here, and last for 2 weeks. They are sweet and a good chew because they are rather tough. I dry them for winter use and they make a great soup if you puree them after cooking.

I'm not sure if your seeding method would work. As an enterprise the short season would keep it rather limited.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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Sylvain Picker wrote:Planting on recently logged land seems attractive but there is two points that could cause problems: very high rate of "weeds" growth and Honey fungus, or Armillaria. I have been told that Armillaria could severely damage new orchard plantings done on logged land. Does anybody heard about it ?


I have heard about it. Armillaria mellea is one of many potential worries for me. There are many kinds of Armillaria, and some are strongly parasitic and others weakly or not so and thus beneficial since they help with the forest's recycling. It's important to know which ones might be on your land. Armillaria mellea can kill entire groves or forests of susceptible or weakened trees. It is famous for wiping out orchards as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Armillaria_mellea_-_honey_fungus_UK.jpg

Like others said, it's edible but personally I'm not too keen on the idea of having Armillaria mellea on my land. But it is a part of the natural rhythm of things, and if your land already has it and it's not disrupting things disproportionately, I don't see a reason to hate it or try to exterminate it (which is a bit un-permaculture-like, IMO).
 
Lily Anderson
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could someone recommend tree organization that has almond trees for good price
 
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