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Planning a Southeast Forest Garden (Zone 7B)

 
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Hello, permies. I'm in the planning process for my future forest garden and I am in need of some guidance. I have a 1 acre area that I want to turn into a forest garden. Another 1/3 acre I will probably start planting in the next 2 years. I know from my reading that it's best to establish the woody plants first.

I guess my question is, whats the most economical way of going about ordering trees/bushes?

Obviously acquiring seeds and starting from there would probably be cheapest, and I don't mind that it takes longer because I have plenty of time. I probably will order a few trees from somewhere like stark bros so I can get a head start on some of them. Is there a good online retailer for bulk orders? Or one that sells seeds for trees/bushes? Besides some west coast companies I've had trouble finding many that sell the seeds that are based out of the southeast.

I'm not so much worried about herbs, flowers, and ground cover. I've found plenty of online retailers for those.
 
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Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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Check with your state forestry office. In Virginia, they sell nut and fruit bearing trees at very reasonable prices.
Also check:
https://www.centuryfarmorchards.com/niche/wildlife.html


https://foxrivervalleynursery.com/Edible_c_19.html


https://www.directgardening.com/5-edibles

I've used direct gardening in the past and created a guerrilla good forest in a school.It's a hit or miss with them, but the prices are good.
 
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If you can, try to find a nursery, where you can

a) see/choose the exact plant you want to have
b) ask questions about the plant and get recommendations.

We did both in the past: ordering bulk online and driving around and check out some local nurseries. When you shop online, you will get whatever they pack you. Sometimes we got good quality, sometimes not. It's a gamble. For the nursery, after some search we found one, which were super nice, explaining us a lot, helped us choosing the right plants and they were not much more expensive then online. Plus when one of our peach tree had some dots on the leaves I could email them and had a phone call with them where they explained me what it is and what to do. After this experience, we will only buy trees/shrubs there from now on but it doesn't mean that online ordering is necessarily bad.
 
Steve South
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Jd Gonzalez wrote:Check with your state forestry office. In Virginia, they sell nut and fruit bearing trees at very reasonable prices.
Also check:
https://www.centuryfarmorchards.com/niche/wildlife.html


https://foxrivervalleynursery.com/Edible_c_19.html


https://www.directgardening.com/5-edibles

I've used direct gardening in the past and created a guerrilla good forest in a school.It's a hit or miss with them, but the prices are good.



Wow, I just checked my states forestry website. I had no idea they sold seedlings. Pretty good prices too and a large variety of hardwoods. I like the selection between the other 3 websites you sent as well. Thank you.
 
Steve South
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Ben Knofe wrote:If you can, try to find a nursery, where you can

a) see/choose the exact plant you want to have
b) ask questions about the plant and get recommendations.

We did both in the past: ordering bulk online and driving around and check out some local nurseries. When you shop online, you will get whatever they pack you. Sometimes we got good quality, sometimes not. It's a gamble. For the nursery, after some search we found one, which were super nice, explaining us a lot, helped us choosing the right plants and they were not much more expensive then online. Plus when one of our peach tree had some dots on the leaves I could email them and had a phone call with them where they explained me what it is and what to do. After this experience, we will only buy trees/shrubs there from now on but it doesn't mean that online ordering is necessarily bad.



My local nurseries have good varieties as far as pollinators, nitrogen fixers, privacy screenings, etc. Probably the best ones within 100 miles are actually 5 minutes from my property. I used their plants to establish my privacy screening on the borders this season and they are doing well. The edible varieties, however, are extremely lacking. I think to get what I want I don't have much choice other than ordering online. I just not sure whether I want to try to order seeds or actual trees. Maybe a mixture of both? I've never tried growing a tree from seed before so that would be new to me.

Do you think I've got the right idea? I'm trying to not get overwhelmed by the plethora of plant species on these websites.
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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About 200 tree can fit on 1 acre of land if they are spaced 15ft apart.
If the avg cost is $25 per tree, overall it will cost you $5,000. (some plants will be for $5 others for $40)

Overall $5,000 is really cheap for a multi-year hobby. Fixing bikes/cars, clubbing, smoking, going on vacations/vegas, all cost a lot more. I have a question how many 3ft by 3ft fruit tree holes do you plan on digging per year/month? To me that is the bigger question my back was asking me.

My personal recommendation is to avoid planting apples, apricot, plum, cherry, peach and nectarine. They have way too many pest and require an IV to really get much from them. I recommend planting berries and shrubs vs trees, they are usually a lot hardier (blueberry/blackberry vs apple). I also like natives like (muscadine grapes/beach plum/sand cherry vs the 'weaker' pest-ridden one that are at home depot). And exotics, both native and elsewhere like pawpaw, hardy kiwi, maypop, asian persimmon, jujube, elderberry.

But the short answer to your question is to do your own grafts. Buy cheap $1 rootstock or seedling for the state forestry and then buy cheap scion wood for $3 (that would be $800 for 200plant). You could even pay someone to graft them for you. And you could also cut your own scion wood from plants that you love. You could also just take a cutting from a tree/plant that you like and root it. Even if it isn't one that taste good you could just turn it into a swamp loving rootstock.
 
Jd Gonzalez
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Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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Hi Steve,

Here's a project I did using the vendors I shared with you.

https://sites.google.com/view/theguerrillafoodforest/home

I chose, sand Cherries (died),Nanking Cherries, Juneberries, hazelnuts, American plum and apricots. They start producing at around 3 years, are low maintenance once established, They look good spring, summer, and fall and have excellent tasting foods.
 
Jd Gonzalez
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Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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forest garden hunting trees solar greening the desert
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Jd Gonzalez wrote:Hi Steve,

Here's a project I did using the vendors I shared with you.

https://sites.google.com/view/theguerrillafoodforest/home

I chose, sand Cherries (died),Nanking Cherries, Juneberries, hazelnuts, American plum and apricots. They start producing at around 3 years, are low maintenance once established, They look good spring, summer, and fall and have excellent tasting foods.

IMG_20200606_133540.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20200606_133540.jpg]
Juneberries June 2020
IMG_20200607_101626.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20200607_101626.jpg]
IMG_20200609_201508.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20200609_201508.jpg]
Juneberry Cobbler
 
Jd Gonzalez
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Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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forest garden hunting trees solar greening the desert
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Here are some more pics. Sadly, due to major renovation the school might lose the food forest if not transplanted in the fall.
IMG_20200607_095211.jpg
Apricots June 2020
Apricots June 2020
IMG_20200606_133325.jpg
Nanking Cherries June 2020
Nanking Cherries June 2020
IMG_20200607_095649.jpg
4 year old Nanking Cherry
4 year old Nanking Cherry
 
Steve South
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Jd Gonzalez wrote:

Jd Gonzalez wrote:Hi Steve,

Here's a project I did using the vendors I shared with you.

https://sites.google.com/view/theguerrillafoodforest/home

I chose, sand Cherries (died),Nanking Cherries, Juneberries, hazelnuts, American plum and apricots. They start producing at around 3 years, are low maintenance once established, They look good spring, summer, and fall and have excellent tasting foods.



Jd, those look great. What do juneberries taste like, I've never had them.
 
Steve South
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S Bengi wrote:About 200 tree can fit on 1 acre of land if they are spaced 15ft apart.
If the avg cost is $25 per tree, overall it will cost you $5,000. (some plants will be for $5 others for $40)

Overall $5,000 is really cheap for a multi-year hobby. Fixing bikes/cars, clubbing, smoking, going on vacations/vegas, all cost a lot more. I have a question how many 3ft by 3ft fruit tree holes do you plan on digging per year/month? To me that is the bigger question my back was asking me.

My personal recommendation is to avoid planting apples, apricot, plum, cherry, peach and nectarine. They have way too many pest and require an IV to really get much from them. I recommend planting berries and shrubs vs trees, they are usually a lot hardier (blueberry/blackberry vs apple). I also like natives like (muscadine grapes/beach plum/sand cherry vs the 'weaker' pest-ridden one that are at home depot). And exotics, both native and elsewhere like pawpaw, hardy kiwi, maypop, asian persimmon, jujube, elderberry.

But the short answer to your question is to do your own grafts. Buy cheap $1 rootstock or seedling for the state forestry and then buy cheap scion wood for $3 (that would be $800 for 200plant). You could even pay someone to graft them for you. And you could also cut your own scion wood from plants that you love. You could also just take a cutting from a tree/plant that you like and root it. Even if it isn't one that taste good you could just turn it into a swamp loving rootstock.



I don't really mind the physical work of planting. I rather enjoy it. I just planted my privacy screening a few weeks ago which consisted of about 70 trees, bushes, and shrubs. Hard work but very rewarding, especially considering they are all doing well so far despite the heat.

I think your right about the tree:shrub ratio though. Based on existing structure, bushes, and trees on the property I think I'm looking at around 50 trees to plant. A few with 40'-50' wide canopies, a few more with  20'-30' wide canopies, and then the rest ranging between 10'-15' canopies. I'll probably have at least twice or three times as many bushes, shrubs, and groundcover in between these trees and that's just for the start. I imagine I'll spend the next several decades adding things here and there to fill in gaps and occasionally moving things that are underperforming based on location. My estimate on plants needed are based on the sun requirements of each plant. I'm trying to underestimate rather than overestimate.

I'm going to plant a few apples, peaches, and plums despite your advice simply because those are some of my favorite fruits, but I believe you when you warn that I will run into problems. Most of the plants you recommended I have already written down so it is good to hear that these should be a little easier for me.

I appreciate your advice. I'll have to do some research on grafting as that is another thing I have not done. Sounds like it could give me cheaper/faster results?
 
Jd Gonzalez
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Jd, those look great. What do juneberries taste like, I've never had them.



Steve, think of a super sweet tasty apple with hints of almond. DELICIOUS! My wife had never tasted them and she was so impressed she made us the "crumble" (i've been corrected, it is not a cobbler as I posted)

They do not need the acidic soild of blueberries, and some trees do suffer from cedar rust. I planted the amelanchier alnifolia whicj is a tall shrub type, there are other types that get taller and more tree like.

I am definitely propagating them in my area.

best, JD
 
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https://mdc.mo.gov/trees-plants/tree-seedlings

I recommend Missouri State forestry as well. Seedlings for .90 each! I planted my yard full with elderberry, Chickasaw plum, mulberry, false indigo, pawpaw's, etc. All the seedlings are doing great.
 
Steve South
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Dennis Lanigan wrote:https://mdc.mo.gov/trees-plants/tree-seedlings

I recommend Missouri State forestry as well. Seedlings for .90 each! I planted my yard full with elderberry, Chickasaw plum, mulberry, false indigo, pawpaw's, etc. All the seedlings are doing great.



Woah, you're right. This makes me want to check some other state websites.
 
Steve South
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Jd Gonzalez wrote:

Jd, those look great. What do juneberries taste like, I've never had them.



Steve, think of a super sweet tasty apple with hints of almond. DELICIOUS! My wife had never tasted them and she was so impressed she made us the "crumble" (i've been corrected, it is not a cobbler as I posted)

They do not need the acidic soild of blueberries, and some trees do suffer from cedar rust. I planted the amelanchier alnifolia whicj is a tall shrub type, there are other types that get taller and more tree like.

I am definitely propagating them in my area.

best, JD



I was looking them up and remembered that these are the same as service berries. I'm definitely going to plant a few varieties of these.
 
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