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How to transform a heavy clay steep slope into a fruit orchard/ food forest? Any advice welcome!

 
pollinator
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Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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Hi everyone, this is my very first post on permies so apologies in advance for any mistakes I might make!
I’ve been hungrily combing through the amazing information on the forum, but so far only had a tiny balcony to do some tiny experiments on, while dreaming of a decent terrain to call my own. Now last December we finally closed the deal on a wonderful domain of our own: an old watermill in the stage of rebuilding (will talk about the watermill in another post) in the Italian Alps, with about 6000 m2 of terrain around the house in varrying degrees of slopes (going from flat ground to slopes to Straight cliff faces) and soil composition. Despite having already read quite a bit, I’m having a bit off a struggle applying the theories to the practice when making choices on how to deal with the terrain. I was hoping some of you could help me out!

The main part of the terrain I’m focusing on right now is a south-west facing slope. The lower part of the slope is more open meadow, while the upper part of the slope is divided into three terraced levels maintained by drystone walls (in need of repair) featuring mixed forest of hazelnut, deciduous trees and way to many brambles.

My plan for the open part of the slope is to transform it into a sloping semi-terraced wildflower meadow with a small fruit orchard (low-stem trees). I will most likely also let my chickens graze on the meadow (rotating pastures system) so I might want to plant some plants for the chickens in there as well). My main challenges with the terrain are the following: the soil is very heavy clay (almost resembling pottery-clay quality), which, next to being way to compacted, also makes that the slopes are at risk of erosion with heavy rains because of the weight of the clay. The lowest part of the slope is almost constantly wet, while the upper terrace of the open slope is rather dry (I’m guessing that because the slope is steeper here, the rain is running straight off instead of seeping into the soil). I’ve read about Swales to retain the water, but with the steepness and the heavyness of the soil I’m worried this will only increase the risk of erosion. Any levelling of the terrain would have to be done by hand (or with the smallest digging machine possible) as there is no asphalt road to reach the house and whatever machinery we could get up there would have to be able to cross the narrow bridge over the small river that runs trough the middle of the domain. So right now I’m a bit in doubt of the best approach.  Do I leave the terrain as is but plant trees near the slopes to stabilise them (and if so do I plant them on the edge of the slope (to stabilise it) or below (easier fruit picking + takes away less sun from the upper trees). Or do I need to level the slope into two even terraces, perhaps add drystone walls to support them? And how can I begin to improve the soil composition?

The upper part of the slope is divided into three terraces with drystone walls (in various degrees of ruin), but the terraces themselves are still rather steep. I think erosion deposited a lot of soil from the upper levels down, burying at least 40 cm of the drystone wall below. On top off the drystone walls there are hazelnut trees planted about 4 m apart. I think there must be about 20-25 of these. I haven’t been able to identify the other trees yet without their foliage. The terraces and the trees had been completely overgrown by brambles and we’ve been slowly working our way trough them these last few months.  I would like to transform this area into a slightly more productive food forest (other then hazelnuts) and while I’ve already got wild garlic and onions in there (and lots of pretty wood anemones) I would like to add some other nut trees (walnut/ chestnut), and maybe some berries that do well in the shady forest (I know blueberries could work, but what else might?). How can I restore the terraces (levelling them and repairing the walls) without having to destroy too much of the vegetation on top? Or do I first need to cut down all the plants, level the terrain and then replant? Any tips are welcome!

Sorry for the long post and thanks for reading!

03A5D6FE-69A6-4C04-9944-F1DB7EA03B21.jpeg
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Lower part of the slope
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Looking down on the slope to show the height difference
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Do I plant below (red) or on the edge of the slope (green)?
Do I plant below (red) or on the edge of the slope (green)?
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Here you can see the s-w facing slope in summer with the open meadow below and the forest above it
507F180A-23B5-4624-9AC3-2688FB2F17C2.jpeg
Same slope but in winter, so you can see the space better without all that foliage.
Same slope but in winter, so you can see the space better without all that foliage.
D957CC41-A22E-44FD-A70A-8CC534975439.jpeg
Blurry photo of one of the terraces inside the forrest. We’ve cleaned some of the dead wood and brambles but left any young trees that had sprouted, standing.
Blurry photo of one of the terraces inside the forrest. We’ve cleaned some of the dead wood and brambles but left any young trees that had sprouted, standing.
 
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Welcome!
I am myself a beginner, but the method I've heard for improving clay soil is to either dig and amend it yourself with a lot of compost then plant something what will fill the pore space you made by digging with roots before it compacts again. Or, the slower, easier way is to grow couple years of cover crops that have strong roots which will do the digging.
A mix of cover crops that symbiotically feed each other and fix a soil problem is the area of horticulture I've been researching. Its a lot of work to find the right mix for your area and purpose, but there are amazing results when a person gets it right.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Hi Grady Houger, thanks for the advice! The symbiotic cover crop mix sounds interesting! Where does one begin to research what mix of cover crops would do well on the terrain? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
Do you also happen to have a clue on what would be the best spot to plant the trees: on top of the steep edge or below it?
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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I would say plant at directly at the base of the slope, and also at the top.
Inversely we can look at it as having two rows of trees on the flat section.

I feel unsure about doing any earthworks to the terraces. I do however feel comfortable about building up the walls of the terraces. So that they can trap more eroded soil going forward.

 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Hi Bengi, thanks for your reply!

I've done some more reading and some drawing and made a little (ugly) sketch. Feel free to comment on it and let me know if anything doesn't seem like a good idea.

I was thinking on making the best out of that steeper slope as it takes a lot of sun and could be great for planting. I was thinking using two rows of logs pinned down with poles to reinforce the slope and catch debris. I'd plant some deep rooting low plants on the slope.
Below the slope I was thinking of making a small swale (but I do have to check if it would be on contour), and then plant trees and low shrubs on the small bank below it. I would do the same for the row of trees I'd like to plant on the higher semi-flat area.
I would plant some medium high well rooting shrubs exactly on the edge of the steepest slope. That way the vegetation is layered and the plants don't take away too much sun from one another.

I'd love to hear any thoughts on this plan! My main doubts would be the small swales. I'd love to trap some water instead of heaving it run of directly, but with the heavy clay soil I'm not sure it would be a good idea.
03A5D6FE-69A6-4C04-9944-F1DB7EA03B21.jpg
A quick sketch to show my current plan for the slopes
A quick sketch to show my current plan for the slopes
 
pollinator
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I like those debris windrows.  I think just including those on down the slope and in the area below it instead of putting in the swale.  Avoiding disturbing the soil except for planting trees, might be the safest thing.  The windrows should mitigate run-off quite a bit.  I've been using brush windrows on some of my clay slopes and they work well.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Thanks for the advice Tyler! I'll hold off on the swales then.
 
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The video attached is what we did in a very heavy clay area. The location is in Deep East Texas.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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William Bond wrote:The video attached is what we did in a very heavy clay area. The location is in Deep East Texas



Thanks for the link! That was a very interesting video to watch.
He mentions nitrogen fixing plants a lot. What could be good nitrogen fixers for steep terrain?
 
gardener
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S. Bard wrote:.He mentions nitrogen fixing plants a lot. What could be good nitrogen fixers for steep terrain?



Bush clover is a good nitrogen fixer that will give good fodder for chickens and other animals and is a sturdy plant.
 
S. Bard
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Mandy Launchbury-Rainey wrote:

S. Bard wrote:.He mentions nitrogen fixing plants a lot. What could be good nitrogen fixers for steep terrain?



Bush clover is a good nitrogen fixer that will give good fodder for chickens and other animals and is a sturdy plant.



Thanks for the advice! My list of plants I need, is slowly starting to like like a half-decent plan. Any tips for plants for ducks/ geese?
 
gardener
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S,

I have two, complimentary thoughts on how to amend your dense clay soil.  

1). Get as much organic matter on your soil as possible.  And given your slope, you will have to stabilize that organic matter.  Maybe you can stake it in place?

2). Secondly, plant some type of cover crop, preferably a mix of grasses, legumes, deep rooters, shallow rooters, definitely some fast growers, etc.  My first thought was to get some clover growing.  The beauty of this system would be that if you get both a cover crop and organic matter, the cover crop will tend to stabilize the organic matter.  

I can’t tell you how much just a pile of woodchips will loosen up the soil beneath.  Over time, there is no distinct boundary between soil and woodchips.

How long before you plant?  If you have a year, a pile of wood chips can do amazing things.  Obviously this will depend upon your individual circumstances.

Eric
 
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We have had deep, compacted,  wet clay and we turned it into a food forest.  We added a few inches of wood chips on top each year.  I also added some gravel into the planting holes to improve drainage and limit winter drowning.  As the tree/plant grows up, it becomes stronger and the soil around it gets better.  It didn't completely turn in one year.  Little by little, more life and organic material found its way into the soil.   It is good soil now. We added a huge diversity of edible, culinary, pollinating, and medicinal plants to the mix over time.  
John S
PDX OR
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Thanks for the help Eric and John
Currently there is a nice layer of leaves and plant material on the slope (leaves from the forest and the plants that popped up last late summer that were left there and are now dead).
We plant to install debris traps along the slope to prevent the organic material from running off.
Ideally we would like to get our first trees in in March. I’ve got pears, cherries, peaches and apples, and then seaberry and autumn olives (for both the berries and the nitrogen). We also have a lot of acacia saplings growing on another piece of our land that I will try to transplant here. I will probably grow borage below the trees to chop and drop. And sow in wildflowers and clover in the areas between the tree rows to attract the bees. I’ll have my chickens run between the trees once they are big enough for pest control and fertilisation.
The only thing I don’t know how to do yet is the wood chips. I have lots of dead wood from the forest, but I don’t have a machine to make chips from them, and I’m hesitant to spend money on either buying the machinery or buying pre-made chips given the abundance of wood I already have. I was thinking of using the dead wood for hugelbeds instead. Or do you think using them as chips would be more effective?

Good tip on the gravel by the way for the drainage! It’s inspiring to hear that you turned your clay into a productive forest!
 
Eric Hanson
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S,

I like that you threw on the forest duff and are installing debris traps.  I think that will do very nicely.

Also, nice job on the plan to bring in cover crops that will attract pollinators.

At the moment I have two raised beds sitting end to end.  Between them I have some comfrey.  This year I am planning on expanding the comfrey while sowing some Dutch White Clover and maybe some flowers like black eyed Susan’s, coneflowers, Queen Anne’s Lace etc.

I think you have a very good plan,

Eric
 
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Location: Detroit, MICH zone 5b -6 United States
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Hi.  Congrats on your land purchase!

I'm not sure what you want to do with the terracing but here, the state has planted tall shrubs along the freeways to prevent mudslides, and erosion.  There used to be green grass and now you can drive by masses of purple or yellow or pinks flowers depending on the month.

Crimson clover is a deep rooted nitrogen fixer that you could cut and drop.  It also grows about 1.2+meters high so you could leave it there for a bit.  Birch trees are beautiful and can be tapped for sap. I'm looking at a Baby Shipova (Mountain Ash) tree to enrich my clay soil and provide fruit in a few years.

Here's a link to some plants that might be useful
https://www.daviddomoney.com/best-plants-clay-soil-grow-full-sun-partial-shade/
 
pollinator
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Here is something I tried with mixed results. The clay was too hard to really get into without equipment. I thought by setting up above ground terraces, hugel-terraces if you will I could mitigate erosion. My plan was to stack hard wood logs behind my retaining wall and top with soil. As the clay got wet and slid into the terrace the soil would build up giving me more planting service. I planted sun chokes, comfrey and summer/winter peas. I figured the peas could fix nitrogen while the comfrey could built the soil. It worked, kinda. The Wood broke down faster than the clay could replace it by eroding into the terrace. What I should have done was put way more deep rooted plants into the thing to start with. Anyway, it’s still there but not to the glory I thought it would be three years later.
Knowing what I know now I would simply plant elderberry, and sun chokes. The berry plants form a hedge via root spreading and the chokes build soil by letting very little slide by. My current sun choke patch is on the side of a hill and it gets better every year!
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John Suavecito
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Yes, think about the pioneer plants in your area. Some will probably be nitrogen fixing and deep rooted. I planted some thornless blackberries here in a compacted shady clay area here a few years ago. Now the soil is good and I can plant some other things as well.
John S
PDX OR
 
S. Bard
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Thanks for your input Scott, and for sharing your thoughts on your 'mistakes' and what you've learned. That's really valuable!

I thought I'd give a tiny update on the slope and what has happened in the meantime.
My initial plan was to get the debris traps in first and plant the trees and shrubs next. But as things go with plans, they rarely follow the exact path you set out for them.

First a small tree nursery in my village had a sale where they sold the last trees in their lot at 3 or 4 dollars (instead of the usual 15 to 20 dollars). Some of these trees weren't the nicest looking specimens (shorter, or slightly crooked), but they seemed healthy and given that I don't have a lot of experience with fruit trees yet, I thought these discounted trees could be great to start learning with, without breaking the bank too much. For example, I won't planning on growing apricots or peaches because I know they need a bit more work and experience in our climate to keep them. But since I could get the trees for just 3 dollars, I thought it was worth trying. If I failed I wouldn't be losing a 20 dollar tree.

So even though I planned on doing the debris traps first, I now bought the trees first because of the sale. Some of the trees I bought (not discounted) were bare rooted trees, so I couldn't wait for my debris traps to be installed first to plant them. So we went ahead and planted the trees and shrubs first, trying to be mindful of spacing them in a way that I can still add the debris traps later.
The only thing I forgot to account for is that I should have buried the trees on a small mound, to compensate for the terrace leveling out once I got the debris traps installed. I don't want the trunks of my trees being buried later on once I've added more wood chips and compost to the debris traps, so now I'm kicking myself a bit for forgetting that. Hopefully I can find away to work around the issue later on.

Anyway I managed to get the trees in the day before the Covid-19 Lockdown started in Italy. I had planned to do the debris traps and the protection for the trees the next week, but now with the lockdown I can't visit the property anymore. I hope when I return to the property in (hopefully) May, my trees won't be eaten by the deer! Kicking myself again for not installing the protection immediately. Oh well, live and learn I guess.

So here's what I planted so far. I've gone with the 'diversity is best' approach, and also wanted to try out some lesser known ancient variaties, to see what works with my terrain and what doesn't.
Currently already planted:
-Seaberry 3 shrubs
-Autumn olive 2 shrubs
-Yellow mimosa (Acacia dealbata) 1 tree
-Durone Bigarreau Cherry
-Lapins cherry for cross pollination
-Madernassa pear (which is a small variety cultivated in a Valle Grana in Piemonte)
-Another pear that I've currently forgotten the name of
-2 Morgenduft apples (dwarf variety)
-1 Schone van Boskoop apple (another dutch dwarf variety as I understand it)
-another apple that I annoyingly also forgot to write the name down, and now I can't go and check the label to see the name..) In any case I went for dwarf varieties so they would form a lower canopy so I could have a second row of higher canopy trees like the pears.
-Selvatico di Rosegafero, which is a local and ancient, very resistant peach
-Pellecchiella apricot (which is a variety of the vesuvian apricot first grown by the ancient Greeks and introduced into Italy by the Romans) I love myself a fruit with a bit of history!


What I'm currently still growing or plan on planting next:
-I have five types of currants I'm currently trying to grow during lockdown. Some are from cuttings, some are from rooted suckers. I've made another thread about the cuttings Here, please check it out. I would be grateful for any advice on them.
-I've got Elderberry cuttings I'm trying to root that I want to use as hedge to line the plot with
-I want to get two varieties of Mulberries (the tree variety and the shrub variety) to try and establish. The shrub variety will go as an understory for the fruit trees, while I want to establish the tree variety between my existing hazelnut forest.
-I want to have some rosehip as understory between the trees as well.
-Rhubarb
-Borage
-Sunchokes
-Nasturtium
-Different varieties of clover and wildflower mix to seed the spaces between the guilds
-Some blueberries and honey berries (haskap) varieties eventually
-Transplanting wild strawberries from other less accessible parts of the property
-amaranth for the chickens


Well that's the plan so far. This list will very likely develop further over time. Especially for the understory.


IMG_4570.jpeg
Cramming all of the trees into our tiny car. We had to do two runs of these, one with the potted plants and one for the bare rooted trees
Cramming all of the trees into our tiny car. We had to do two runs of these, one with the potted plants and one for the bare rooted trees
IMG_4576.JPG
My mimosa blooming. I love mimosa. The flowers here are traditionally gifted to women on World-Women-day. My husband knows me well and gifted me an entire tree instead
My mimosa blooming. I love mimosa. The flowers here are traditionally gifted to women on World-Women-day. My husband knows me well and gifted me an entire tree instead
IMG_4584.jpeg
Hard to see on the picture, but the first two rows of trees and shrubs are planted and marked.
Hard to see on the picture, but the first two rows of trees and shrubs are planted and marked.
IMG_2947.jpeg
My first try at doing hardwood cuttings for elderberries and currants. I made another post about this. Please check it out and give me your insights on them!
My first try at doing hardwood cuttings for elderberries and currants. I made another post about this. Please check it out and give me your insights on them!
 
pollinator
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With your slope and location in the Alps, I’d recommend reading up on Sepp Holzer. It seems like you’ve got a great plant collection started and many of the recommendations above are sound. The plant I have not seen mentioned that has helped greatly with my compacted clay soil in the past is daikon radish. The root makes kimchi, the leaves are good cooking greens, and the flowers and young seed pods are sweet and spicy with a nice crunch. I just leave most of the tubers to rot in the ground, making a nice hole of compost punched into the clay.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
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Ben Zumeta wrote:With your slope and location in the Alps, I’d recommend reading up on Sepp Holzer. It seems like you’ve got a great plant collection started and many of the recommendations above are sound. The plant I have not seen mentioned that has helped greatly with my compacted clay soil in the past is daikon radish. The root makes kimchi, the leaves are good cooking greens, and the flowers and young seed pods are sweet and spicy with a nice crunch. I just leave most of the tubers to rot in the ground, making a nice hole of compost punched into the clay.



Thanks Ben. I’m actually currently reading Sepp’s permaculture book. Lovely read.
Good tip on the daikon radishes. Although I haven’t found their seeds in local markets yet. I might have to find a place online in Europe that sells the seed.
 
master gardener
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Enjoying seeing the updates, I always like hearing the history of the plants too.

Looks great so far!
 
S. Bard
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Thought I’d use this thread a bit as a log for the progression of our slope.
It has been the first time in over 50 days that we could go back to our slope to see how the fruit trees we planted just before lockdown were doing.
I had feared the worst, given that we experienced one of the driest springs in 50 years! A lot of the trees were bare rooted plants so not being watered for over 50 days should have been stressful for the plants. The last time we were at the site all trees were still bare of leaves and the grass hadn’t started growing. Despite having expected stunted growth due to the dryness, we were happily surprised to see that -our property had transformed into a green (albeit wild) oasis! Despite being on a very sunny and steep slope with very little rain these last two months, all the trees except for my mimosa had survived. My pears, cherries and apples even showed to bear some fruit!
I think what helped was that the surrounding vegetation had grown almost a meter high, shielding the trees from the worst heat and keeping the moisture from evaporating.

We cut down some of the grass (well more a mix of wildflowers, herbs, wild tree saplings and a mix of grasses) with a scythe (our first time scything!!!), clearing a path to reach the trees and giving the trees a bit more breathing space, but without clearing the whole field, so we can keep the shielding and slope stabilising property of the plants on the spaces we are not going to use right now. It was good to create a clear walking path between the tall grass because we disturbed two snakes while scything! Of one, a completely black one, we know it was most likely a carbonazzo, which isn’t venomous. The other one was brown, but we didn’t see it’s head as it was hidden in the grass. Here’s hoping it wasn’t a viper (which does occur frequently where we live). The carbonazzo however is going to be our (albeit ugly and somewhat scary) friend, because it actively hunts venomous vipers. As long as he doesn’t pop up all too often to scare the heck out of us! I don’t like picking strawberries and grabbing a fistful of snake instead!

As for our trees:
My apricot tree unfortunately had a lot of curled leaves, with little bugs hiding in the curls. While one of my cherries was infected with lice. I removed all of the affected leaves. Let’s hope that prevents further damage by the bugs! I had planted two cherries of two different varieties to cross pollinate. One of the trees was however already bearing fruit while the other one was still only budding out! That was a bit strange though. I specifically bought these two varieties for their ability to flower in the same period to cross pollinate, which has clearly not happened now. I’m guessing the other cherrie got cross pollinate by our wild sour cherries in our garden. As for the Lapins cherrie that still hasn’t leafed out, could this be due to the fact that this cherrie was a bare rooted plant while the other was potted, this taking longer to establish roots, stunting the development of leaves?

Anyhow it was great to finally be back on our property! And it was such a pleasure to discover for the first time was growing by itself on our property.
I found dozens of elderberries, wild grapes, walnuts, hazelnuts, robinia pseudoaccacia, acorn saplings,wild tulips and wild onions and dandelion. Of these I know their use.
Next I found dozens of plants of lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) which I believe is family of the borage family, a lot of what I believe is Ailante, some maple saplings, blatterdock, blue bugle, and a lot of blood-twig cornel. Aside from diversity, does anyone know some uses for these plants? Currently they are popping up on unfavourable places (like where I plan to put paths), so I’m debating wether they are worth investing the time transplanting them to other locations.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this!
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I managed to take a better shot to give an overview of our garden (which is like a small valley on itself with the house on one side of the river, and the orchard slope on the other)
I managed to take a better shot to give an overview of our garden (which is like a small valley on itself with the house on one side of the river, and the orchard slope on the other)
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Freshly scythed walkways
Freshly scythed walkways
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What’s growing on the meadow
What’s growing on the meadow
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Wild grapes, me thinks? Lots of vineyards in the neighbourhood so I wouldn’t be surprised if a bird dropped these
Wild grapes, me thinks? Lots of vineyards in the neighbourhood so I wouldn’t be surprised if a bird dropped these
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Pretty lungworts
Pretty lungworts
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Our first cherries!
Our first cherries!
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The slope with the new fruit trees, seen from under the shade of our walnut tree
The slope with the new fruit trees, seen from under the shade of our walnut tree
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Blue bugle patch
Blue bugle patch
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Ailante? Or something else? They’re growing everywhere!
Ailante? Or something else? They’re growing everywhere!
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Our apricot with leaf curl damage
Our apricot with leaf curl damage
 
Posts: 40
Location: North Carolina
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I came to North Carolina 8 years ago. As a child I learned from my grandparents the magic of New England's rich black loam soil. My first Spring in North Carolina I took one look at the dense red clay here and thought 'what the hell do I do with this?' You can take a scoop of my yard and mold it into a brick, it's that dense. When faced with a growing dilemma I always look to Mother Nature. The clay is rich in nutrients, the trick is to free them so the plants may use them.

I stack my compost. My goats, bunnies, and chickens provide most of the elements needed and 6 months later I have amazing compost. Rather than work hard I did what Mother Nature does... I top dressed. I made raised beds with half cinder blocks and filled them with my compost. The compost breaks down the clay beneath it. Maybe a half inch a year. As the plants toes reach down the minerals locked inside the clay become readily available to them. I also don't till my beds. There is a wonderful universe under there. I make a small hole for the seedling or seed and add a new layer of that seasons compost. I lay drip hoses and cover them with a thin layer of compost to help slow the evaporation. My billy got out and trashed one of my beds last fall. While I was repairing it last week I got to see the years of compost top dressing had broken down a good five inches of the clay below the raised bed's base line.

The ground here is just clay. The clay for every hand made brick in my 130 year old Italianate Gothic home came from across the street. Knowing how deep the clay ran, I used the same raised beds for the dozen fruit trees I put in to prevent root rot. When it rains for two days the water just puddles. I have small ditches to help it run off but you can't get it all. When in doubt take your Que from Mother Nature.
 
joanna Powell
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Location: Detroit, MICH zone 5b -6 United States
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To S. Bard

You might have an invasion of "Tree of Heaven" You have to kill the roots, not just dig them up as it likes to form colonies and crowd everything else around it out. The leaves and trunk also have a acrid foul stink (my opinion). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ailanthus_altissima

Here's a video on how to kill it
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSpMRZCyF-c
 
S. Bard
pollinator
Posts: 189
Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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joanna Powell wrote:To S. Bard

You might have an invasion of "Tree of Heaven" You have to kill the roots, not just dig them up as it likes to form colonies and crowd everything else around it out. The leaves and trunk also have a acrid foul stink (my opinion). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ailanthus_altissima

Here's a video on how to kill it
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSpMRZCyF-c



Oh no! it does look like tree of heaven. What an ironic name.
But is herbicide the only way to kill it? How do you apply the herbicide with the cut and spray method to these tiny saplings.
If possible I would prefer not using herbicides. Would digging up the saplings repeatedly as they pop up eventually tire out the plant? Or is it fighting against the flood?
 
joanna Powell
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Hi. I had cut down a sapling:  4 more grew from the stump.  I dug up another 18 inch tall sapling in October and I'll know in the next few weeks if there are any more progeny.  Maybe you could try applying vinegar and rock salt in the cuts on the trunk.  I'm applying an herbicide, because pruning it just seems to encourage new growth.  I'm planning on cutting it down and grinding up the stumps in late Fall after the herbicide does the job.  Good luck to you dealing with Tree of Heaven in your valley.
 
John Suavecito
gardener
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applying herbicide will negatively affect your soil microbiome and any food you might want to eat, or wanted to eat before you applied it.  Some people have applied boiling water or vinegar, or just dug out the roots.
John S
PDX OR
 
pollinator
Posts: 143
Location: Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Europe
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You can get daikon seeds from Sativa Seeds or Zollinger seeds in Switzerland. Check out Dr. Red hawks posts on soil. He also has some comments on dealing with a clay slope.
Would love to visit some time.
 
S. Bard
pollinator
Posts: 189
Location: Italian Alps, Zone 8
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Susan Wakeman wrote:You can get daikon seeds from Sativa Seeds or Zollinger seeds in Switzerland. Check out Dr. Red hawks posts on soil. He also has some comments on dealing with a clay slope.
Would love to visit some time.



Thanks for the tip, Susan!
If you’re ever in the neighbourhood (we’re on the border between Trentino and Veneto), you are very welcome to visit! We haven’t got much to show off , though; as we’re only just starting the garden!
 
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