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Q about planting Living fence

 
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Location: marengo county, al
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I’m planing to grow (attempt) a living fence of Osage Orange. I have the fruit sitting in a wheelbarrow right now... question is, how do you plant the seeds? By hand? Or, is there another way?
 
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Nate,

Good job on picking Osage Orange!

So you can certainly plant the seeds.  If you have a lot of those fruits, consider chopping or breaking them into pieces and planting the chunks.

You could just push them into the ground and see what happens.  Alternatively you could dig little holes and fill them with manure or some other type of potting mix.

Also, consider planting something along with the Osage.  Osage is a fast growing tree, but can take time to get established.  Some other woody brush can get things stated before the Osage really takes off.

Among the possibilities for co-planting are:
Black locust
Hybrid poplars
Autumn olive

Black locust grows fast, makes good firewood, and is rot resistant

Poplars grow very, very fast.  Don’t burn especially fast but might be good for harvesting later for woodchips

Autumn olive is an invasive nuisance and not useful for much other than cutting down.  However it grows like mad around me, birds like it and it does make a decent privacy barrier.  Personally I think the best use for it is to trim back and chip up for woodchips from time to time.

Another option altogether is to plant and designate the row off limits altogether.  Just allow whatever grows to grow.  Sure, things aside from Osage will grow in the meantime, but before long you will have your hedge and Osage will grow in time.

Please keep us updated,

Eric
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:Nate,

Good job on picking Osage Orange!

So you can certainly plant the seeds.  If you have a lot of those fruits, consider chopping or breaking them into pieces and planting the chunks.

You could just push them into the ground and see what happens.  Alternatively you could dig little holes and fill them with manure or some other type of potting mix.

Also, consider planting something along with the Osage.  Osage is a fast growing tree, but can take time to get established.  Some other woody brush can get things stated before the Osage really takes off.

Among the possibilities for co-planting are:
Black locust
Hybrid poplars
Autumn olive

Black locust grows fast, makes good firewood, and is rot resistant

Poplars grow very, very fast.  Don’t burn especially fast but might be good for harvesting later for woodchips

Autumn olive is an invasive nuisance and not useful for much other than cutting down.  However it grows like mad around me, birds like it and it does make a decent privacy barrier.  Personally I think the best use for it is to trim back and chip up for woodchips from time to time.

Another option altogether is to plant and designate the row off limits altogether.  Just allow whatever grows to grow.  Sure, things aside from Osage will grow in the meantime, but before long you will have your hedge and Osage will grow in time.

Please keep us updated,

Eric



Great post.  We disagree a little on Autumn Olive, but I think we can both live with that :)  I love Autumn Olive and use it a lot.  I love the berries and I think it is just a beautiful plant.  It can get leggy, but if you prune it hard after it goes dormant, it comes in nice and thick.  It's obviously invasive some places, but I can't say it is here.  I have more trouble having enough of it than too much and I rarely get volunteers.

A traditional way of planting Osage Orange is to leave a bunch of the "apples" out all winter so they freeze and thaw multiple times.  In the spring, you can add water and blend them.  I use a paint stirring bit in my drill.  When it's about like pancake batter, you dig a shallow trench and pour the mix in.  Once it's poured, kick a little dirt in the trench and wait.

I've also had good luck cleaning and drying the seeds and putting them between damp paper towels in a shallow tupperware type container and planting them after they sprout.  I tried it with seeds fresh from the apples and it didn't work.  I got no germination and they rotted.  Those seeds were from apples I left out over the winter.

I fully agree with Eric idea of planting multiple types of trees/bushes in your fence.  If you want to be able to weave the Osage Orange into a fence, I would plant the other species in a separate row so it is easy to get to the Osage.
 
nate sherve
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Location: marengo county, al
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I haven’t seen black locust around here...I guess I could just buy some seeds. I’d rather not use nonnative plants., they can be very invasive.  I’d rather plant the Osage by seeds other than clumps of the fruit. It seems to me that it would cover more rows. I have to drive around a good bit get a lot of the fruit...
 
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Glad you asked this. I recently picked up some Osage oranges from the side of the road and have them in a bucket out by the barn. I was just planning to let them sit out there and rot down over the winter and trying the trench method in early spring. Let us know how it turns out for you.
 
Eric Hanson
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Nate,

If you want to plant seeds, what I have heard is easiest to do is to soak the fruit in warm water and then roll/crush the fruit and free the seeds.  This is likely a sticking, smelly mess, but if you want to do it, go for it.  

Another option might be to find some trimmings of an Osage and push the sticks right into the soil.  This gets you a tree much faster.  In fact, if you were to drive around, find an Osage and ask/offer to trim a few branches, I bet that you would have quite a few takers.

Another nurse tree I thought about is a hybrid cottonwood.  They are dirt cheap and grow like mad.  They are not great for burning, but will make a nice hedge quickly and will make awesome woodchips or woody material for a hugel mounds if you are so inclined.

BTW, how long a fence row are you talking about?

Eric
 
nate sherve
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Location: marengo county, al
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Kc, yea I have in a wheelbarrow at the barn. I got them on the side of the road, also.    Eric, I haven’t heard of trimmings. I reckon it’s too late for this year, yea? It’s for 5 acres field and paddocks
 
Eric Hanson
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Trace,

Ok, I will concede that I was a little harsh on the autumn olive.  Around me it is terribly invasive and kinda takes over hill and dale it a few years if not checked by mowing, burning or regular trimming.  I both mow and trim mine and on occasion I have gone well out of my way for a year or two to not mow it in order to get it to bulk up before I chip it.  When I said it was not useful I was thinking that it does not make good dimensional lumber, nor does it make good firewood.  It does burn of course, but more of the fast and furious type of fire.  It is also not especially strong.

But I was being narrow minded.  I grow it for chips. Living fencing, bird habitat and increasingly deer habitat.  The original fence in the hedge has mostly been crushed to the ground, ravaged by time and deer.  Now, the line where the fence was at is a hollow corridor used by deer!!

Glad that you agree that a good living fence needs multiple species.  Osage will be amazing once established.  It can have half it’s mass cut for firewood and grow back in a year or two.  And the firewood is amazing.  Slow, hot burning.  We used to burn it in the fireplace growing up.  We could only burn one log at a time or we could melt the grate!  I doesn’t so much burn but smolder white hot.  We’re it not for the fact that it sparks, I would call it the perfect firewood.

But Trace, your observations are dead on and I was short sighted.

Eric
 
Trace Oswald
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Eric Hanson wrote:Trace,

Ok, I will concede that I was a little harsh on the autumn olive.  Around me it is terribly invasive and kinda takes over hill and dale it a few years if not checked by mowing, burning or regular trimming.  I both mow and trim mine and on occasion I have gone well out of my way for a year or two to not mow it in order to get it to bulk up before I chip it.  When I said it was not useful I was thinking that it does not make good dimensional lumber, nor does it make good firewood.  It does burn of course, but more of the fast and furious type of fire.  It is also not especially strong.

But I was being narrow minded.  I grow it for chips. Living fencing, bird habitat and increasingly deer habitat.  The original fence in the hedge has mostly been crushed to the ground, ravaged by time and deer.  Now, the line where the fence was at is a hollow corridor used by deer!!

Glad that you agree that a good living fence needs multiple species.  Osage will be amazing once established.  It can have half it’s mass cut for firewood and grow back in a year or two.  And the firewood is amazing.  Slow, hot burning.  We used to burn it in the fireplace growing up.  We could only burn one log at a time or we could melt the grate!  I doesn’t so much burn but smolder white hot.  We’re it not for the fact that it sparks, I would call it the perfect firewood.

But Trace, your observations are dead on and I was short sighted.

Eric



Eric, no need to concede anything.  Your observations are as true for you in your area as mine are for me here.  It may be that you have more of the invasive issues with Autumn Olive than I do because of your warmer climate, your soil type, or any number of other issues.  The shortcomings you mentioned about it not being suitable for firewood or burning are spot on.  

I'm always glad to hear other experiences from other people in other areas.  Whether our experiences with any one thing echo each other's or not, I enjoy your posts and your insights.

 
Eric Hanson
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Trace,

Thanks mightily for the kind remarks!

Regarding the autumn olive.  Around me it is a true invasive, brought in during the 30s as a part of the shelter belts.  It got out of hand.  Around here the stuff spread 3 ways.  

#1) birds in eat then poop the seeds.  The seeds hit the ground in a nice, fertilizer package and really hit the ground running when they sprout.

#2). The roots sucker like crazy and make 1 bush an impenetrable mess.

#3). Branches hit ground, send off roots of their own and a single bush can quickly consume an area

Not terribly far from me, there was a piece of ground that had several desirable qualities.  Nice, rolling land, close to town but felt far far away, very attractive price, several acres.  My parents gave it a bit of interest.

Biggest problem was that it was covered entirely in a morass of autumn olive.  

Eventually the land sold and the new owner tried to clear it—with fire!  Stupid human trick!  The fire quickly got out of control, local FD got it out before it jumped to neighbors land.  Sorta a lucky miss.  Sadly, there are a lot of areas like this around us.  It’s the accidental fires that concern me more.

But in your area, perhaps this is different and the birds do love it.

Thanks for commenting Trace,

Eric
 
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