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New forest garden plot in mid missouri

 
Posts: 19
Location: Columbia MO
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Somehow,  permaculture has evaded me for nearly 20 years of playing in the dirt. Until now!  

I've been planning a typical rowcrop garden for next year, taking over a large full sun spot in my yard. I'm just now getting to the hard work due to a broken knee last January.   I laid out a nice curvy blob, planned out the fence and rowcrop, and spent many a nights in the cool moonlight planning while the leg healed.  And then, about a week ago while searching for some missouri natives to spice things up,  I stumbled upon the idea of permaculture gardens.   Boy has it thrown a wrench in my plan!   Out goes the ugly fence, out goes the rowcrop, in comes a new plan.

Site challenges are plenty, but not insurmountable.   Poor and dry hardpan clay, just a few inches of topsoil thanks to 15 years of mulching mowing. Typical suburban grading which promotes zero water collection. An uphill neighbor hell bent on monoculture grass with weed and feed help. Creeping Charlie that fortunately hasn't reached that portion of the yard, but has started moving into my compost area.

Site advantages.  I have a third acre wooded back lot for endless compost and mulch if needed.  Canopy is 50 to 80 feet tall, many trees over 100 years.  If I can get the neighbor to cease the lawn poisoning, I can collect quite a bit more water.  I've cultivated a variety of fungus in existing beds and mulch piles, and have successfully converted old planting beds from hardpan into nearly excellent soil over the past 3 years.  

My basic plan is to mesh traditional ornamental landscaping with natives and a permaculture garden.  I have begun terracing the site from the top to encourage water retention, and there seems to be decent rates of water imbibement in my third terrace so maybe it's not so hard pan after all.  

1, ornamentals.  On the street edge and in a few key locations on the sides, I'll have about 2/3  ornamentals such as boxwood, juniper, barberry, etc.  The native grasses and prairie flowers will peak through. This traditional ornamental edge is to keep a standard curb appeal, match the other landscaping of the neighborhood,  and also hide much of the winter blandness and "mess" that will occur.


2. Native prairie.  The next layer behind ornamentals will be missouri prarie. Commonly called butterfly gardens to make it sound fun.   I have already planted some cord grass in anchor locations , and will add sedges and a variety of annual and perennial flowers such as asters, indigo, yarrow, coneflowers, blazing star, bergamot, black and browned eyed susan etc...  I picked up seeds from the Mo wildflower nursery and also have another property with 3 years of native plant efforts to yank root and seed from. The prarie plants have incredibly deep roots and break down hardpan like a boss.   This area on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th terrace will recharge the soil with water while pulling up mineral content.

3. Compost.  I want to have a compost pile hidden in the 3rd and 4th terrace, to hopefully feed my lower garden levels via runoff and reduce my time spent moving amendments around the property.

4.  The permaculture garden.  I am basing the garden around pear and plum trees in the 4th and 5th (lowest) terrace.  The width of my garden at this level is about 20ft , so it should be about right for the drip line.  The rightmost edge is also on the drip line of a very large oak tree located uphill in the neighbors yard.   I think I'll have one main pear in the middle, and a few more pear and plum crammed together between it and the natives.  Dont care about maximum harvest or perfectly shaped trees, I just want some nature and shade back from the boring grass lot.  


I'll continue the cultivar and layout planning with a map.   Its complicated enough that I can't really go much further without doing a typical landscape design.  Otherwise I'll make a big mess!  

Thanks for reading.  I'm quite excited about where this could be in 1 to 3 years time!
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john holmes
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Location: Columbia MO
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Here is my "hobby house " native prarie, in its 3rd year.  Cloud9, cordgrass, fox sedge, and big bluestem are the main anchors. The flowering plants have not kept up with manual planting, so we are seeding heavy for next year.   I have arborvitae and junipers as streetside ornamentals for a nice winter time and "clean" look up front.   I call it a mullet yard, business in front and party in back!    

This yard has many feet of rich rich topsoil, becomes a lake when it rains, and I have a rad neighbor that's let me extend the prarie into his yard!  Plus he loves dandelions and isnt into traditional monoculture grass yard marketing ploys...  This yard is what rekindled my interest in horticulture.   I'm trying to get some frogs to set up shop next, and will extend my work next year into food plots here too.
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master pollinator
Posts: 11519
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I like that it is right on the street where folks can see it.  It would be especially cool if you add some signage describing what you're doing.  For your prairie patch you might get one of these signs:  https://xerces.org/pollinatorhabitatsign/

 
john holmes
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That's a fantastic idea, Tyler.  
 
john holmes
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Not exactly to scale and not complete, but it lays out proper in the yard.  Now I just need to plan all the understory stuff and where I'll walk.  Comfrey, clover, veggies, brambles etc..  I'm hoping to box in a section with brambles and barberry well enough to give myself a chance at strawberries somewhere.

Pear and jujube trees are doubled up to ensure a little genetic variety and better pollination.
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john holmes
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My out of scale plans were bugging me.  Made a properly scaled layout.  I ended up with two plum trees instead of two jujubes,  have two figs to place (that I will keep in bush form), and then we are off to the races!  I'm probably going to harvest some top soil from my other house or the back lot, as we dig downhill its turned into clay.  Which is why I chose plum over the jujube.   Early September planting should let everything root well enough to overwinter, so I hope... I've done worse.
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john holmes
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And now I need some input. I dont want the trees in a linear line, its logical but boring. Pushing the small trees north will favor the east side prarie area.  Pushing them south will favor the trees. Or triangulation and shove em together, maybe a no downside option.

Thoughts?
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john holmes
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There were four trees delivered today and the even number is bothering me since I'm second guessing my choice of putting the plums 18" spaced  😄

But progress shall be made!
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gardener
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Looks good John!

I like your movable plants on your design map, very convenient.

Of your design options above, I personally would pick the first one that would maximize the early morning sunlight from the east for each tree. Whichever one you pick I'm sure they'll be fine. Mine are all mixed together and it seems like it doesn't seem to matter all that much as long as the plants are healthy.

Excited to see how it turns out.
 
john holmes
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I like the notion of favoring east sun, and I think it will pull the eye nicely from uphill and downhill viewing. Also lines up the drip lines with the oak dripline to the north. Cooler weather coming this week,  will be great for planting.  

Thanks for the advice everyone, I'm really enjoying the planning process
 
john holmes
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Got solid work this morning before the sun came out of the clouds.  Almost half the ornamentals in.  Of course I bought twice as many as needed in haste and have some junipers that I dont like the color of. Can't decide on whether to mix them together in dense bunches or pull the minty green ones to my other house. Small details of little consequence though.

Progress shall be made!
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john holmes
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Got in the trees this cool and beautiful morning!  A staggered line  moving north worked nicely to ease my even-number hangups.
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john holmes
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Street view, maybe a little easier to see the staggered line
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john holmes
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A clay yard with heaps of sand?  What in the construction waste world is going on here?  And is that a truffle in the mulch?  All sorts of surprises today!  

Also got blackberries, raspberries,  and wild strawberries from the local native nursery.  Looking forward to that next year. My grandma had about an acre of BlackBerry and I would gorge myself as a kid.
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john holmes
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I suppose I'm mostly done, besides the greens and herbs around the trees. Thorny raspberries and blackberries are bordering the prarie section now, which is the best place for them!  One fig already died, it was looking rough from day one.

Its amazing what minimal contouring has done for water retention  .  Runoff is practically zero already.  
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john holmes
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Oof, the deer have been having their way eating the trees and raspberry bush.  Had one tree scraped and pushed over quite a bit.  I dont want a fence.  Any suggestions?  I was thinking I could use string to stake the trees and maybe it would keep the antlers away if it was a tangle hazard.
 
pollinator
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Here the MO State Nursery site https://mdc12.mdc.mo.gov/Applications/TreeSeedling/

Very cheap but there's a minimum of 10 of each tree. They start selling Sept 1st and tend to run out of the good stuff in a week. I don't know why they don't adjust the quantities of stuff but they haven't in the past several years. They ship but I'm 30 miles away so I just went and got them the one year I bought stuff. I've got several Persimmon and wild plum I need to transplant this fall. I stuck them in my garden beds because I didn't have room for them. Now they're 3-4 feet tall. I've got some rebuds here and there too. Next year, I ordering on Sept 1st and getting elderberry and hazel nut.

EDIT

I just ordered 10 Kentucky Coffee trees. Member of the fabacea/pea family aka nitrogen fixing legume. They will make a mess of a yard with their pods.

EDIT

Although a member of the legume family
(Fabaceae), Kentucky coffeetree is not a nitrogen
“fixer”.  




well that sucks. I haven't paid for them yet so I may or may not bother. One thing they do have is a crazy tap root, many times the height of the trunk. Might be good to break through my hard pan.

EDIT again

Cancelled the coffeetree order and will be getting False Indigo instead, which is a nitrogen fixer and purty too.

 
john holmes
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That's nice looking. Maybe I'll add some to the list.

After I put up a fence or kill and eat this buck that's being extra destructive.    Fence, or bow?   My fall red raspberries went from a few hundred buds to being eaten to stalks.  I'm guessing he got tangled in this tree scraping it and freaked out. Nature will get its chance after its established. For now, I've gotta do something or I might have well just set the money on fire.
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john holmes
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Couldn't get to the fence yet.  Made a choice to get firewood this weekend instead of build a fence.  Woke up Monday to three of 4 trees broken in half.  I guess I should have expected this, but I didn't.
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How disheartening!  Would temporary fencing just circling the trees maybe get them through the first year or two to get them established?
 
john holmes
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I'm gonna fence it all now. They raked the raspberries with the antlers so hard I'll get none next year either. The last remaining tree was broken in half the next morning.  They also broke the tops off the figs.


I live in the middle of a 100k person city.  This is due to a neighbor that puts out 50lbs of deer feed a week so she can watch them in her back yard.   Wouldnt be enough food to keep them around otherwise.  I always wondered why there were so many deer and she stopped by while I was working one day to "wish me luck" against the deer while showing off her fresh bags of feed.

So now I've got a $500 deer to harvest. That's about how much damage the buck has caused.
 
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