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So, I have the seeds for my food forest and...

 
pollinator
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Okay! I've gotten seeds. In fact I probably have more than enough.

I've got black and yellow sweet cherries, freestone peaches, and open pollinated apple seeds from a 100+ yr old orchard.

I have done the research on how to germinate them, and the issue now seems to be how to get it set up. My plan version 1.0 is to buy potting soil, mix it 1:1 with native soil, add dolomitic lime, and use this mix to plant into. The seeds will be pre-soaked and treated with MycoGrow before planting. They are in the refrigerator for stratification at the moment. I was planning to use nursery bags as containers, but have also considered other containers. I could get containers from the recycling center or something to that effect. But after considering leeching and aluminum toxicity, I have more or less concluded that the grow bags are the way to go. They are reusable and recyclable, don't leech, and are UV resistant. Does this sound good or am I forgetting something?
 
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What support species are you using in your food forest?

Initially, there may be 90% support to 10% productive plants.  Some of the support species become permanent parts of the food forest, others are sacrificial.

 
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Can you plant them directly into your food forest?  Maybe at a higher density to account for germination issues?  Then you'd maintain the tap root and they'd probably grow faster (no root constraints or transplant shock).
 
pollinator
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Mike makes a good point. You lose a lot of the advantages of growing from seed if you don’t plant them in the ground. I would at least plant the peaches in the ground.  Peaches have big seeds and become fast growing trees. I would plant 4-5 pits for each tree you want. Some will come up the first Spring, but I have had them come up second year. I just plant them in Summer or Fall and let nature take care of stratification. If you have squirrels, you might put rocks near but not on them. I saw a post where a concrete block with hollow cavities was put on the seeds. Just don’t forget to move it before the trees get too big.

Apples and cherries won’t compete with weeds very well. I’m not sure about direct seeding them. I haven’t tried.

You could plant all kinds of berries in between the trees.
 
Ken W Wilson
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I don’t like grow bags. The soil dries out way too fast. But they may have improved  them in the last few years.
 
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I really love the ideas revolving around a food forest. I have a concern about deer and the impact they might have on the understory components when trying to get something like this established.

I like the idea of biodiversity and letting the natural accumulation of insects and animals form to create a balanced system. But, from experience I do know that in areas of heavy deer population, a number of shorter leafy plants, including young trees - are at risk of being eaten and/or damaged.

I too am very interested in starting a system like this on our property...

Should a deer fence be installed around the perimeter? Is this a viable concern to have from a young orchard/food forest perspective?

Have you guys and gals who have done this, or are planning to do this had any issues with deer modifying your food forests ?

After watching that Geoff Lawton vid I'm thinking now about establishing the helper trees first for several years, what an eye opener.
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Tyler Ludens wrote:What support species are you using in your food forest?

Initially, there may be 90% support to 10% productive plants.  Some of the support species become permanent parts of the food forest, others are sacrificial.



I have a list of plants which will also be planted in the food forest. This is not a complete list. There are already mature shade trees, chestnuts, pears, persimmons, and 3 unknown shrubs.


Canopy - A
Understory and Dwarf - B
Shade Loving Shrubs - C
Forest Edge - D
Herbaceous Layer - E
Prairie/Full Sun - F
Other - O

::Dominant Species::
Apples - 6 - B
Peaches - 4 - B
Cherries - 2 - B
Prickly Ash - 1 - B
Hardy Giant Pecan - 1 - A

::Soil Busters::
Daikon - 200 - D
Mandrake - 15 - E

::Living Mulch::
Cucurbitae - 18 - E
Strawberries - 200 - E

::Insectaries::
Culinary Sage - 8 - E
Russian Sage - 3 - F
White Sage - 15 - F
Corriander - 25 - E
Thyme - 10 - E
Oregano - 15 - D
Nicotianas - 300 - F
Goldenrod - 20 - F
Honey Locust - 1 - A

::Shrubs::
Thornless Raspberry - 2 - D
High Bush Blueberry - 2 - D
Camelia japonica - 6 - C
Lingonberries - 2 - D
Pawpaw - 8 - C
Viburnum - 3-5 - D

::Bioacumulators::
Asparagus - 3 - D
Mustard - 8 - F
Comfrey - 30 - C
Sunflowers - 100 - F
Mushrooms (Shitake, Morell, Oyster, Garden Giant) - 12 - C

::Nitrogen Fixers::
Illinois Bunchflower - 100,000 - F
Honey Locust* - 1 - A
Pole Beans - 100 - F

::Climbers::
Grapes - 8 - B
Hardy Kiwi - 4 - B
morning glories
hopps

::Barrier Plants::
Hardy Orange* - 2 - A

::Rhizosphere::
Potatoes - 160 - E
Garlic - 100 - E
Fennel - 30 - E
Onions - 300 - E
Leeks - 100 - E
Wild Alliums - 50 - E
Asian Ginseng - 2 - E
Turmeric - 3 - E
Beets - 100 - D

::Tallgrass Prairie::
Sorghum - 5 - F
Winter Rye - 300 - F

::Water Plants::
Sacred Lotus - 2 - O
Rice - 50 - O

*starred plants have multiple headings
under which they fit.
 
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I use grow bags extensively and I love them.  The air pruning of the roots seems to correct any issues with transplant shock and my trees are all doing great in them.

If your native soil is decent, I would fill the root bags with that, and with no amendments.  I think going from soil in containers with amendments shocks the trees when they hit the "real" soil they are going to live in.  If your soil is horrible, you may not have a choice, but if it is okay, I would plant in the same soil the trees are going to live in.
 
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Ty Greene wrote:I really love the ideas revolving around a food forest. I have a concern about deer and the impact they might have on the understory components when trying to get something like this established.

I like the idea of biodiversity and letting the natural accumulation of insects and animals form to create a balanced system. But, from experience I do know that in areas of heavy deer population, a number of shorter leafy plants, including young trees - are at risk of being eaten and/or damaged.

I too am very interested in starting a system like this on our property...

Should a deer fence be installed around the perimeter? Is this a viable concern to have from a young orchard/food forest perspective?

Have you guys and gals who have done this, or are planning to do this had any issues with deer modifying your food forests ?

After watching that Geoff Lawton vid I'm thinking now about establishing the helper trees first for several years, what an eye opener.



Ty, my food forest is in a very high traffic deer area, and I'm currently experimenting with a variety of different options. I'm trying to move towards using a combination of thorny plants, letting native plants grow up around them up to the plant height and sometimes a little higher, and using twiggy branches stuck in the ground to discourage the deer.

Here's a good thread with more info, and Anne lists some additional threads in her post with different options.

https://permies.com/t/85872/Keeping-deer-orchard

The deer feasted on my food forest quite often when I first started planting things, as my previous property had almost no deer pressure, and I didn't know what to expect. I've had almost no deer damage recently, so it's been working well recently. Wish you the best!
 
Mike Haasl
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I'd fence it before you get started.  I dinked around with little fences around each tree or guild for a while but it was just easier to fence the whole thing.  My site was open and relatively flat so I could use a meandering remesh fence.  Very few posts are needed and it's very cheap.  Second year and it has still kept the deer out.
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Trace Oswald wrote:I use grow bags extensively and I love them.  The air pruning of the roots seems to correct any issues with transplant shock and my trees are all doing great in them.

If your native soil is decent, I would fill the root bags with that, and with no amendments.  I think going from soil in containers with amendments shocks the trees when they hit the "real" soil they are going to live in.  If your soil is horrible, you may not have a choice, but if it is okay, I would plant in the same soil the trees are going to live in.



The soil here is not poor, but It is lacking in calcium. Thus I think that it would still need the lime, and I would probably dig some into the planting holes. We have loess, which is fine and silty soil. There is some organic matter in the top 3 inches or so, but below that it is nearly devoid of insects and visible life. There is water constantly flowing through the ground about a foot below the surface in the late spring. However, recent test holes have revealed that the water is now below the depth of 2 feet. There are drainage ditches which are almost always moist just outside of my fence line. I was considering digging more drains through the food forest, but I don't know exactly how to go about it. We are on high ground between 1000ft peaks (that are 200ft above us) and the Ohio River, and water flows through our place underground to get to the river. I am considering french drains emptying into the ditches that my neighbor owns. He was totally okay with this, and in fact recommended it.
 
Trace Oswald
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:I use grow bags extensively and I love them.  The air pruning of the roots seems to correct any issues with transplant shock and my trees are all doing great in them.

If your native soil is decent, I would fill the root bags with that, and with no amendments.  I think going from soil in containers with amendments shocks the trees when they hit the "real" soil they are going to live in.  If your soil is horrible, you may not have a choice, but if it is okay, I would plant in the same soil the trees are going to live in.



The soil here is not poor, but It is lacking in calcium. Thus I think that it would still need the lime, and I would probably dig some into the planting holes. We have loess, which is fine and silty soil. There is some organic matter in the top 3 inches or so, but below that it is nearly devoid of insects and visible life. There is water constantly flowing through the ground about a foot below the surface in the late spring. However, recent test holes have revealed that the water is now below the depth of 2 feet. There are drainage ditches which are almost always moist just outside of my fence line. I was considering digging more drains through the food forest, but I don't know exactly how to go about it. We are on high ground between 1000ft peaks (that are 200ft above us) and the Ohio River, and water flows through our place underground to get to the river. I am considering french drains emptying into the ditches that my neighbor owns. He was totally okay with this, and in fact recommended it.



I'll give you my advice.  It's worth what you paid for it :)  I would plant in the root pouches for the reasons I already gave.  If you know your soil is low in calcium, I would broad fork that in in as large an area as you want to amend, but at least 6 feet or so across, and add a little to the soil in the root pouch so the proportions are roughly the same.  Then I would take some extra soil from somewhere else and build up small mounds, maybe a foot or two, and when you are ready to plant the trees out, plant in the mounds.  Most trees don't like wet feet, but having water available a couple feet down sounds like a great thing.  I personally wouldn't try to get any water to leave my land.  I'm trying to capture all I can before it runs past.  I'm not an expert, so take that for what it's worth, I'm just passing along what I would do.
 
Ty Greene
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Steve Thorn wrote:
Ty, my food forest is in a very high traffic deer area, and I'm currently experimenting with a variety of different options. I'm trying to move towards using a combination of thorny plants, letting native plants grow up around them up to the plant height and sometimes a little higher, and using twiggy branches stuck in the ground to discourage the deer.

Here's a good thread with more info, and Anne lists some additional threads in her post with different options.

https://permies.com/t/85872/Keeping-deer-orchard

The deer feasted on my food forest quite often when I first started planting things, as my previous property had almost no deer pressure, and I didn't know what to expect. I've had almost no deer damage recently, so it's been working well recently. Wish you the best!



Thanks! I'm looking forward to checking out that link...I  like your ideas especially about using twiggy stuff as a natural barrier.

Mike Jay wrote: I'd fence it before you get started.  I dinked around with little fences around each tree or guild for a while but it was just easier to fence the whole thing.  My site was open and relatively flat so I could use a meandering remesh fence.  Very few posts are needed and it's very cheap.  Second year and it has still kept the deer out.



That is a great idea, I especially like it because my terrain is rocky and driving/digging for posts is tough! I have a lot of hills so not sure how that would work out but it's something I'll keep in mind
 
Tyler Ludens
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Ty Greene wrote:
Have you guys and gals who have done this, or are planning to do this had any issues with deer modifying your food forests ?



I put a double fence around my entire homestead (about 1 acre).  Two short fences about four feet apart are keeping the deer out 100%, and we have a gazillion deer.  We sometimes call this place the Land of Moredeer.  A baleful place where everything is eaten.....

 
Ryan Hobbs
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A change of plans has occurred. From your suggestions and my grandma's, we are now going to direct seed into prepared circles. Sorry for all the changes. What brought this about was actually that the company that sells the grow bags insisted our 1940s era house didn't exist and they couldn't ship to us. So here we are.

I'm digging the circles in with compost and lime, and making them mound-ish as soon as it cools down. Gods willing, that's after it rains tomorrow. We have about 2 weeks to get it done tho.
 
Trace Oswald
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:A change of plans has occurred. From your suggestions and my grandma's, we are now going to direct seed into prepared circles. Sorry for all the changes. What brought this about was actually that the company that sells the grow bags insisted our 1940s era house didn't exist and they couldn't ship to us. So here we are.

I'm digging the circles in with compost and lime, and making them mound-ish as soon as it cools down. Gods willing, that's after it rains tomorrow. We have about 2 weeks to get it done tho.



If you ever want to try the grow bags, let me know and I'll order extra for you.  I order them 200 at a time and the last batch cost me $.54 each.
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Ryan Hobbs wrote:A change of plans has occurred. From your suggestions and my grandma's, we are now going to direct seed into prepared circles. Sorry for all the changes. What brought this about was actually that the company that sells the grow bags insisted our 1940s era house didn't exist and they couldn't ship to us. So here we are.

I'm digging the circles in with compost and lime, and making them mound-ish as soon as it cools down. Gods willing, that's after it rains tomorrow. We have about 2 weeks to get it done tho.



If you ever want to try the grow bags, let me know and I'll order extra for you.  I order them 200 at a time and the last batch cost me $.54 each.



That's very generous of you. I had found them for $0.23 each at grow organic dot com if it helps. I tried looking for same at rural king, tractor supply, and walmart but no dice.
 
Trace Oswald
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Ryan Hobbs wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote:

Ryan Hobbs wrote:A change of plans has occurred. From your suggestions and my grandma's, we are now going to direct seed into prepared circles. Sorry for all the changes. What brought this about was actually that the company that sells the grow bags insisted our 1940s era house didn't exist and they couldn't ship to us. So here we are.

I'm digging the circles in with compost and lime, and making them mound-ish as soon as it cools down. Gods willing, that's after it rains tomorrow. We have about 2 weeks to get it done tho.



If you ever want to try the grow bags, let me know and I'll order extra for you.  I order them 200 at a time and the last batch cost me $.54 each.



That's very generous of you. I had found them for $0.23 each at grow organic dot com if it helps. I tried looking for same at rural king, tractor supply, and walmart but no dice.



I'm not finding them, could you send me a link in PM?  

Hey Ryan, I think I found the ones you are talking about, but those are plastic grow bags, not the actual air pruning pouches, unless I'm looking at the wrong ones.  They do have the root pruning pouches, but their smallest size is 3 gal and they are $4 or $5 each I believe.  I start all my trees in the 1 gal size.
 
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