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Trees/shrubs for shelter belt in zone 2/3

 
Posts: 10
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Hello,
I'm new to the forum and am hoping I could get some help. We are up in Alberta, Canada. We are starting to build a small farm from bare land and I would like to start planting a shelter belt/food Forrest down the driveway first. We are Zone 2/3. Just wondering if anyone has any experience with any of these in this climate? Are any of them nitrogen fixers? Do any sucker bad? Ect. I just made a list from a nursery site and haven't done much research on each yet Any advice or experience to help me eliminate or add something would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Upper story

Sugar maple
Green Alder
Black Walnut
Bur Oak
birch
Elm
Crab
Apple
Plum
Amur Corktree

Mid story

Plum

Shrubs

hazcap
Cherry
Cherry Plum - Manor
Black currant
Red currant
Gooseberry
Raspberry
Blueberry
Caragana
Hazelnut
Saskatoon
Goji Berry
Silverscape Olive
Russian Olive
seabuckthorn
Silver Buffaloberry
Cranberry


Ground cover

Strawberries
Bearberry
 
pollinator
Posts: 256
Location: Central Texas
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I can't help with recommendations for that zone, but hopefully my comment will bump up the thread where those family with Z2/3 can provide some insight.

Edit- Not sure if Alberta has something like an extension service; but that could be a source of information.
 
Tyler Wayne
Posts: 10
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Kc Simmons wrote:I can't help with recommendations for that zone, but hopefully my comment will bump up the thread where those family with Z2/3 can provide some insight.

Edit- Not sure if Alberta has something like an extension service; but that could be a source of information.




Thanks a lot ! Ya I will check into that!
 
pollinator
Posts: 157
Location: Ontario - zone 6b!
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Haven't lived in Alberta in a long time... but here's what I'd suggest. Where abouts are you?

This is based on my experience in Edmonton and up to an hour north of it.

First - learn to identify what you have on your land already, or on your neighbours properties.Try - https://open.alberta.ca/publications/1711129 . I'd also suggest looking in your local library for Lois Hole's gardening books. Gardening in Alberta is pretty unique, and her books are written for the area.

Second - other than the Zone 2/3 climate, your other issue will be dryness. A forestry restoration expert I knew used to say that if Alberta was another 1-2 degrees warmer, it would be a desert with the amount of average rainfall. Look for VERY drought tolerant plants.

What is your concern with suckering? My understanding of a shelterbelt is that denseness is a good thing.

Most of the plants you list are things I never saw in Alberta, or when I lived in Zone 3 Ontario. Your climate might be different...

My plant suggestions that I recall doing very well in Alberta are:
- Saskatoons
- Raspberries
- Aspen of various kinds
- Alberta Spruce/White spruce
- Manitoba Maple
- Blue Spruce
- High bush cranberries
- Crab apples
- Birch
-Sumac
-Currants
- Sour (not sweet) cherries
I highly recommend the use of evergreens. Winter wind at -30 is miserable, and evergreens are good for blocking a lot of it.  Rhubarb isn't shelter belt material, but is a reliable food plant, as are some types of strawberries. I'd also suggest looking for stuff developed at the Morden, Manitoba research centre. Otherwise, often wild versions of things are more cold hardy than the imported garden centre plants.

 
Posts: 47
Location: Saskatchewan
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You do have some nitrogen fixers on your list, caragana, silver buffalo berry, and sea buckthorn, stand out to me for what would grow well. I would add chokecherries to your list. I am in SK. In a similar zone and find that the lack of water in the summer is the biggest problem with growing shelter belts. A lot of those plants sucker from the roots most of those copice really well too, the worst plant on the list that I see for suckering is actually the plum, I know of a couple old orchards that have been completely engulfed in wild plum root suckers.

I am working on some shelter belts myself, so far they are. Elm, caragana, spruce, hazelnut, chokecherry, and raspberry in one. Adding one in this spring which will be elm, apple, hazelnut, raspberry, and highbush cranberry. I dont find much use of trying to plant a ground cover as the grass just fills in and overtakes everything anyways without constant attention.
 
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Hi Tyler,

I'm in South Saskatchewan - Zone 2b/3 and currently growing these items from your list... hazcap (Haskap); Black Currant; Red Currant; Gooseberry; Raspberry; Caragana; Hazelnut; Saskatoon; Goji Berry...

All the berries are doing very well, surprisingly drought and winter (-40 C) tolerant in most cases. Haskap is slower growing than the currants, but will eventually reach a similar size, best tasting berries of all for fresh eating. You'll need two varieties for good fruit set (I have Aurora and Borealis varieties);
Both Black & Red Currants are very tough and grow fast, they like a good soaking in the spring when they wake up and after that they handle dry summers very well. Dense bushes, should do fine in your shelter belt. Our 4 year old bushes are almost mature height already (4-5 ft) with loads of fruit each June;
We are growing a variety of Black Gooseberry that is very tough and extremely drought tolerant, it's a fairly short, sparse bush that does spread through it's roots like a lilac, but is easy to keep under control, not invasive - berries are large and plentiful;
Raspberries grow very well, need a good watering every other day when getting started and as fruit develops (berries with shrivel up and turn hard without sufficient water). Having said that, raspberries are often used in mid to low shelter belts around here, heavy suckering, unless you get a (more expensive) variety that is identified as non-suckering.
Carragana is also very popular for shelter belts, it grows very quickly, can be kept trimmed as a hedge or left to grow into a row of small trees, 10 ft or more. We have 100 yr old homesteads around here where the house is almost gone but the carraganas are still growing down the drive One thing about caraganas, once they are established they are very hard to get rid of if you change your mind. Cut them down to the ground and they'll be at least 2 ft high again by the end of the season;
The Goji berry grows extremely fast and produces delicious and abundant fruit in the second year, definitely worth growing - but perhaps not in a shelter belt... their thin arching branches and small leaves won't stop much wind and the branches are very fragile and break very easily, you might find your gojiis virtually branchless after a good storm They sucker heavily, and will spread quickly without control.

Silverscape Olive; Russian Olive - our neighbour has been trying to grow these as a shelter belt, but having trouble getting them established, not able to water them sufficiently where they're located. If you're going to try them, make sure you plant them in reach of a garden hose.

Others I can recommend... Aronia ('superfood' berries), Manchurian Apricot, Nanking Cherry, Romeo or Juliet Cherry (sour cherry, fruit the size and taste of black cherries in the store!) I can also recommend T&T Seeds for your root stock, we have had great success with everything we've purchased from there and they are located in Manitoba, the closest nursery I've found to our own growing conditions (www.ttseeds.com)

Hope this helps and good luck!

 
Tyler Wayne
Posts: 10
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Catie George wrote:Haven't lived in Alberta in a long time... but here's what I'd suggest. Where abouts are you?

This is based on my experience in Edmonton and up to an hour north of it.

First - learn to identify what you have on your land already, or on your neighbours properties.Try - https://open.alberta.ca/publications/1711129 . I'd also suggest looking in your local library for Lois Hole's gardening books. Gardening in Alberta is pretty unique, and her books are written for the area.

Second - other than the Zone 2/3 climate, your other issue will be dryness. A forestry restoration expert I knew used to say that if Alberta was another 1-2 degrees warmer, it would be a desert with the amount of average rainfall. Look for VERY drought tolerant plants.

What is your concern with suckering? My understanding of a shelterbelt is that denseness is a good thing.

Most of the plants you list are things I never saw in Alberta, or when I lived in Zone 3 Ontario. Your climate might be different...

My plant suggestions that I recall doing very well in Alberta are:
- Saskatoons
- Raspberries
- Aspen of various kinds
- Alberta Spruce/White spruce
- Manitoba Maple
- Blue Spruce
- High bush cranberries
- Crab apples
- Birch
-Sumac
-Currants
- Sour (not sweet) cherries
I highly recommend the use of evergreens. Winter wind at -30 is miserable, and evergreens are good for blocking a lot of it.  Rhubarb isn't shelter belt material, but is a reliable food plant, as are some types of strawberries. I'd also suggest looking for stuff developed at the Morden, Manitoba research centre. Otherwise, often wild versions of things are more cold hardy than the imported garden centre plants.


Thank you for the reply! I was just wondering if suckering plants would spread out of control on me? I was wondering about evergreens as well, they won't choke out the other trees?

Thanks again!
 
Tyler Wayne
Posts: 10
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Marc Dube wrote:You do have some nitrogen fixers on your list, caragana, silver buffalo berry, and sea buckthorn, stand out to me for what would grow well. I would add chokecherries to your list. I am in SK. In a similar zone and find that the lack of water in the summer is the biggest problem with growing shelter belts. A lot of those plants sucker from the roots most of those copice really well too, the worst plant on the list that I see for suckering is actually the plum, I know of a couple old orchards that have been completely engulfed in wild plum root suckers.

I am working on some shelter belts myself, so far they are. Elm, caragana, spruce, hazelnut, chokecherry, and raspberry in one. Adding one in this spring which will be elm, apple, hazelnut, raspberry, and highbush cranberry. I dont find much use of trying to plant a ground cover as the grass just fills in and overtakes everything anyways without constant attention.



Thanks for the reply! What are your thoughts on evergreens in the shelter belt?

 
Tyler Wayne
Posts: 10
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Wendy Webb wrote:Hi Tyler,

I'm in South Saskatchewan - Zone 2b/3 and currently growing these items from your list... hazcap (Haskap); Black Currant; Red Currant; Gooseberry; Raspberry; Caragana; Hazelnut; Saskatoon; Goji Berry...

All the berries are doing very well, surprisingly drought and winter (-40 C) tolerant in most cases. Haskap is slower growing than the currants, but will eventually reach a similar size, best tasting berries of all for fresh eating. You'll need two varieties for good fruit set (I have Aurora and Borealis varieties);
Both Black & Red Currants are very tough and grow fast, they like a good soaking in the spring when they wake up and after that they handle dry summers very well. Dense bushes, should do fine in your shelter belt. Our 4 year old bushes are almost mature height already (4-5 ft) with loads of fruit each June;
We are growing a variety of Black Gooseberry that is very tough and extremely drought tolerant, it's a fairly short, sparse bush that does spread through it's roots like a lilac, but is easy to keep under control, not invasive - berries are large and plentiful;
Raspberries grow very well, need a good watering every other day when getting started and as fruit develops (berries with shrivel up and turn hard without sufficient water). Having said that, raspberries are often used in mid to low shelter belts around here, heavy suckering, unless you get a (more expensive) variety that is identified as non-suckering.
Carragana is also very popular for shelter belts, it grows very quickly, can be kept trimmed as a hedge or left to grow into a row of small trees, 10 ft or more. We have 100 yr old homesteads around here where the house is almost gone but the carraganas are still growing down the drive One thing about caraganas, once they are established they are very hard to get rid of if you change your mind. Cut them down to the ground and they'll be at least 2 ft high again by the end of the season;
The Goji berry grows extremely fast and produces delicious and abundant fruit in the second year, definitely worth growing - but perhaps not in a shelter belt... their thin arching branches and small leaves won't stop much wind and the branches are very fragile and break very easily, you might find your gojiis virtually branchless after a good storm They sucker heavily, and will spread quickly without control.

Silverscape Olive; Russian Olive - our neighbour has been trying to grow these as a shelter belt, but having trouble getting them established, not able to water them sufficiently where they're located. If you're going to try them, make sure you plant them in reach of a garden hose.

Others I can recommend... Aronia ('superfood' berries), Manchurian Apricot, Nanking Cherry, Romeo or Juliet Cherry (sour cherry, fruit the size and taste of black cherries in the store!) I can also recommend T&T Seeds for your root stock, we have had great success with everything we've purchased from there and they are located in Manitoba, the closest nursery I've found to our own growing conditions (www.ttseeds.com)

Hope this helps and good luck!


Thanks for your reply as well! I would also like to hear your thoughts on evergreens in the shelter belt if you don't mind?
 
Marc Dube
Posts: 47
Location: Saskatchewan
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Ever greens work awesome in shelter belts 30 years from now. Between my grandfather and father planting a bunch over the years I can see how long they take yo become a sufficient size in this climate and it's pretty much 30 years before they get 12 feet high and bushy.
 
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Wendie and Catie, great informative posts, thank you.

The only thing that caught my eye was autumn olive, here in Michigan it is considered an invasive species and is frowned upon by the DNR.
 
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