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Anything I Could Grow In The Forest?

 
Brandon Greer
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I just bought 12 acres of land, most of which is forest of which includes 1/2 eastern red cedar and the other half of the trees are, well actually I'm not sure what they are yet

What little open pasture I have will be occupied by sheep and chickens and a small garden, but my question is, since I have so much forest, is there anything edible that I could grow in the forested part of my land? I'd like to utilize as much of my land as possible and I really hate to clear any forest away (except for the 1 acre pond that I'll clear away trees to put in). Any advice is much appreciated!
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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The best eggs I have eaten came from chickens who live in the woods scratching around under the leaf litter, twigs and tree limbs. Plus the birds seem to enjoy the cover of the trees. After seeing those chickens I totally changed the way I am keeping mine.

I am now waiting for my first eggs out of this bunch so I hope they will be as good. I may have to go digging around under trees to find them though.

Also it seems that blueberries and mulberries like to grow at the edges of the trees rather than out in the open.
 
Brandon Greer
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Jeanine Gurley wrote:The best eggs I have eaten came from chickens who live in the woods scratching around under the leaf litter, twigs and tree limbs. Plus the birds seem to enjoy the cover of the trees. After seeing those chickens I totally changed the way I am keeping mine.

I am now waiting for my first eggs out of this bunch so I hope they will be as good. I may have to go digging around under trees to find them though.

Also it seems that blueberries and mulberries like to grow at the edges of the trees rather than out in the open.


That's great to hear. Do chickens prefer pasture or forest? I ask because if they prefer the pasture, how can I get them to go to the forest?
 
Burra Maluca
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Chickens are descended from jungle fowl - they prefer jungles! But forest is the next best thing.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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The lady who had the chickens with the wonderful eggs allowed hers to free range completely. The chickens spent most of thier time in the cover of the trees coming out occasionally to the open areas.

The problem with this is finding the eggs and catching the chickens.

I have temporary metal stakes with black plastic 4 foot netting that I can move around easily. I open different areas, like garden beds, open grass areas, an old coop area and divert the chickens to these areas on a rotating basis.

They still have a main coop to come back to at night where I feed them kitchen scraps and a few whole grains. This ensures that when I go out there they will come to me (more like stampede) when I go out there. If I let them into a garden patch I am cleaning up they are actually right IN my hands as I am pulling weeds or digging around. I'm not sure what they are eating but they go after it with a vengeance.

As I mentioned before this is my first year trying this but the chickens seem to really like it. They completely cleaned out a 'buggy' area under some pecans and hydrangea bushes, then cleaned up under the blackberries and around the horseradish.

My area is much smaller than yours, only 1 1/4 acre, of that they only have access to about half an acre which is divided into 7 sections. They are rotated around and all paths lead back to the main coop. We do have the threat of predators so I want to be able to lock them up securly at night. And, like clockwork, when dark hits they are all back at the coop and I just shut the door.
 
Brandon Greer
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Jeanine Gurley wrote:The lady who had the chickens with the wonderful eggs allowed hers to free range completely. The chickens spent most of thier time in the cover of the trees coming out occasionally to the open areas.

The problem with this is finding the eggs and catching the chickens.

I have temporary metal stakes with black plastic 4 foot netting that I can move around easily. I open different areas, like garden beds, open grass areas, an old coop area and divert the chickens to these areas on a rotating basis.

They still have a main coop to come back to at night where I feed them kitchen scraps and a few whole grains. This ensures that when I go out there they will come to me (more like stampede) when I go out there. If I let them into a garden patch I am cleaning up they are actually right IN my hands as I am pulling weeds or digging around. I'm not sure what they are eating but they go after it with a vengeance.

As I mentioned before this is my first year trying this but the chickens seem to really like it. They completely cleaned out a 'buggy' area under some pecans and hydrangea bushes, then cleaned up under the blackberries and around the horseradish.

My area is much smaller than yours, only 1 1/4 acre, of that they only have access to about half an acre which is divided into 7 sections. They are rotated around and all paths lead back to the main coop. We do have the threat of predators so I want to be able to lock them up securly at night. And, like clockwork, when dark hits they are all back at the coop and I just shut the door.


The sections idea sounds pretty interesting. I might have to try that. How many chickens do you keep in that 1/2 acre area?
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Twenty five chickens and two geese.

We also had 5 adult turkeys and twenty-some baby turkeys until a few weeks ago. I have pretty much quit eating meat so it seemed senseless to have all of those birds to take care of with only one meat eater in the house.

I will probably eat some meat here and there but an occasional chicken ( a couple times a year) is plenty for me. We have enough diversity in this flock that I should be able to allow them to breed and not have to worry about bringing in birds from the outside for some time to come.
 
John Polk
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Wild leeks (ramps) do best in a wooded area.
I have been told they do best in deciduous woods. I guess they soak up the spring sun before the trees leave out, but get good shade for the warmer months.

 
Brandon Greer
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Jeanine Gurley wrote:Twenty five chickens and two geese.

We also had 5 adult turkeys and twenty-some baby turkeys until a few weeks ago. I have pretty much quit eating meat so it seemed senseless to have all of those birds to take care of with only one meat eater in the house.

I will probably eat some meat here and there but an occasional chicken ( a couple times a year) is plenty for me. We have enough diversity in this flock that I should be able to allow them to breed and not have to worry about bringing in birds from the outside for some time to come.


That's quite a few birds on half an acre. I guess they don't use up much of the land, which is good.
 
Brandon Greer
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John Polk wrote:Wild leeks (ramps) do best in a wooded area.
I have been told they do best in deciduous woods. I guess they soak up the spring sun before the trees leave out, but get good shade for the warmer months.



That's the first I've ever heard of leeks. I guess they're used mostly as a seasoning? Are they pretty good?
 
Cris Bessette
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Brandon Griffin wrote:
John Polk wrote:Wild leeks (ramps) do best in a wooded area.
I have been told they do best in deciduous woods. I guess they soak up the spring sun before the trees leave out, but get good shade for the warmer months.



That's the first I've ever heard of leeks. I guess they're used mostly as a seasoning? Are they pretty good?


ramps grow wild where I live, actually every year there is a ramp festival here. I love them, they grow in damp coves here in the mountains.
They have a strong garlic-like flavor. I'll eat a pile of 'em fried in bacon grease. Then later, I'll melt people's faces with my breath.

 
Cj Sloane
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Lots of edibles to grow but we need your location.

Also, you might want to look into silvopasture.
 
Brandon Greer
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Cris Bessette wrote:
Brandon Griffin wrote:
John Polk wrote:Wild leeks (ramps) do best in a wooded area.
I have been told they do best in deciduous woods. I guess they soak up the spring sun before the trees leave out, but get good shade for the warmer months.



That's the first I've ever heard of leeks. I guess they're used mostly as a seasoning? Are they pretty good?


ramps grow wild where I live, actually every year there is a ramp festival here. I love them, they grow in damp coves here in the mountains.
They have a strong garlic-like flavor. I'll eat a pile of 'em fried in bacon grease. Then later, I'll melt people's faces with my breath.



haha well take the good with the bad i guess
 
Brandon Greer
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Cj Verde wrote:Lots of edibles to grow but we need your location.

I'm in Hunt County, Texas. It's Northeastern(ish) Texas


Cj Verde wrote:
Also, you might want to look into silvopasture.


A quick google search of this turned up some very interesting results. I'll certainly spend some time reading up on that!
 
Cj Sloane
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Now we're getting somewhere.

Lots of options but I don't think ramps will work. I have tons of ramps that grow naturally but a Vermont forest has different variables than Texas. Also consider food for you vs food for your animals.
 
Brandon Greer
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Cj Verde wrote:Also consider food for you vs food for your animals.


Yes, actually growing food for my animals in the forest would be great too. I just want to utilize as much of my 12 acres as possible, whether utilized by myself or my animals. I just hate wasted space
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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As for numbers of animals for the land they are on this is my personal rule of thumb:

When I start seeing bare ground there are too many animals for the standard that I have set here. Of course you can't use that as measure in desert areas. But where I live in the south east there really is no reason for me to have animals on a dirt lot. At the bottom of my posts there is a link to my projects. It looks like this pretty much most of the time.

In the winter I plant winter rye which provides for green stuff for them to eat and plenty of green stuff for me to cut and layer on top of my beds.

And Cris? Ramps? I think I have a place I could grow Ramps and I do love them with a passion. Do you want to sell some?
 
Cj Sloane
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Just today I was plotting and scheming what to plant this fall and I was surprised to see someone selling ramps:
Wild Leeks Oikos Tree Crops

edit - it occurs to me that it might be cheaper to purchase at a farmers market in the spring or maybe post a request on craig's list if they grow in your area.
 
Brandon Greer
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Jeanine Gurley wrote:At the bottom of my posts there is a link to my projects.


Your land is amazingly beautiful! With any luck mine can look half as green someday!
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Cj thanks for the link - they are out of stock now but at least I have a link. I may be just a bit too far south for ramps but I have a little spot that they 'might' work in. I think it is worth a try.

Brandon, thank you. You will be amazed at some of the photos of peoples projects here at permies -- from all over the world. I think we truly love the space we are in and it shows - so much more beatiful than the sterile lawns of suburbia.
 
Cris Bessette
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Jeanine Gurley wrote:

And Cris? Ramps? I think I have a place I could grow Ramps and I do love them with a passion. Do you want to sell some?



I actually don't have any on my land, I hunt for them in the Spring some years on national forest land. They are harder to find the rest of the year.
I transplanted some to my old house a handful of years back, but I will have to do it again at my new place so I can get my own crop going.
 
John Polk
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Another source for ramps is http://www.rampfarm.com/

They only sell in the spring time. Best buy (if you want to go BIG is 1,000 plants for $189).

It is there only business. (They also have a book about growing it)

 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Thanks John,

I think I now have a buyer for stuff that I am growing so I really ought to get serious about growing stuff. Mostly I have been doing it for my own use and entertainment (hobby).

But a pan full of ramps, potatoes and bacon? I just don't know how anyone could pass that up. Best thing in the world!
 
Devon Olsen
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jeanine in the nicest way one can say this:
screw you for having such a nice garden your first year:p

but thanks for the link for ramps cj
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Devon - why thank you

But the 'first year' is misleading. This is just my first year using permaculture techniques.

It has actually taken about 8 years to go from thick scrub full of years of rotten buildings and scrap metal to a decent yard that we can enjoy.

The first couple of years I was a typical green grass lawn Round Up Queen. After that I transitioned to organic (6 years ago), then in May 2011 I found out about permaculture and I have been hooked ever since.

So ... no, it most certainly has not been that easy. And I am still succeeding and failing anew every day.

 
Me Wagner
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New (as in 1 week old) to the PC concept myself. I saw this post because it sounds like a question I might ask soon. However, I am in SE Georgia, have lots of pine trees (not a lot of anything else) and acid soil. I would love to know how I could fence that area in, and what to put there (pigs, chickens, etc) to make changes that would produce "eatable food" (eventually) for both critters and humans.

My problem is we have an abundance of what is called to we ole folk, down in the South, "Timber Rattlers~Snakes" in this area, so I am afraid to do ANYTHING. In fact, I just lost one of my most special dogs "Mama Val" (Dachshund) 3 weeks ago, from a bite by a freaking snake. So whats a gal to do?

Enjoyed the post, and the responses. TY
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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The fence is a good start.

I am not any good at raising pigs but if I were I would put pigs in there. They will stir the place up, loosen up the soil, fertilize it, run off the snakes and just generally get it cleaned up for you.

After that I would move them out and if you have underbrush or scrub I would put in some goats. They will clear out everything up to about 4 or 5 feet so you can see a clean ‘forest’ floor.

In this way you get the clean up crew to do the work and you will have a better picture of what trees and shrubs you want to keep and which ones, if any, that you want to remove.

Snakes: If you can find some rat snakes, bring them onto your property and provide habitat – as many as possible. I learned only a few years ago that they keep the rattlers away. The more non-venomous snakes – the fewer venomous snakes. Yes, I have lost some eggs and one small banty rooster to a black snake but I would much rather have the rat snake than a poisonous snake and the keep the rodent population down as well.

As for your acid soil I wouldn’t worry about it. I don’t bother with all that soil testing stuff. To each his or her own. I just started composting-in-place. I cannot be convinced that my entire yard is all evenly one certain ph. Some big time garden guru – don’t remember who – also said that there will be some pockets that are this ph and some that are that ph. And it will change as we plant\harvest\grow\compost different things over the seasons.

And re-arranging is fun! I never ever ever rearrange the furniture in my house. But my gardens move change and evolve all of the time – and the plants are usually very forgiving. The oregano that was so happy under the sasanquas is now recovering from an attack by my husband’s weed-eater (he was ‘helping’ me).

So just try stuff, and if it doesn't work out then try something different. I do have a sort of list of plants that I have found to be somewhat foolproof for this area if you are interested.
 
Cj Sloane
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The pigs love to eat pine and that's why they tend to live in hardwood forests (they ate the softwoods).

I'm personally anti-goat. Cows and sheep (depending on the breed) will also to a good job cleaning up the understory

Jeanine Gurley wrote:

I am not any good at raising pigs but if I were I would put pigs in there. They will stir the place up, loosen up the soil, fertilize it, run off the snakes and just generally get it cleaned up for you.

After that I would move them out and if you have underbrush or scrub I would put in some goats. They will clear out everything up to about 4 or 5 feet so you can see a clean ‘forest’ floor.

In this way you get the clean up crew to do the work and you will have a better picture of what trees and shrubs you want to keep and which ones, if any, that you want to remove.
 
John Alabarr
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ferns, asparagus, mushrooms
 
Brenda Groth
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here in Michigan Cedars grow in damp acidic soil..not sure in your area..but forests are trees, brush, perennials, and a few grasses..so go with that..plant trees of any food you'll eat on a regular basis..also berries and other understory bushes..and watch the sun for open spots on the forest floor where some greens might be happy..also any onion family
 
Elisabeth Tea
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Don't forget blueberries. Yum!

http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-027/430-027_pdf.pdf
 
Rhoda Bruce
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I wouldn't mind putting some of my chickens in the woods, but they'd be mighty protected. I'd give them a lot of space, so they wouldn't be really confined, but no way would I allow free range, unless I'd be there to babysit them. A lot of critters in the woods.
Now I remember as a child going in the woods with my parents to harvest wild grapes in late summer. Daddy made some really potent wine. I'd like to get some cuttings and put some grape on our property. It can be wild or domestic. Might be nice if I can find species that don't all ripen at once.
My sister spoke of a plant that her cuban FIL uses as a staple. She claims it looks like an elephant ear and he eats the tubers. Says its like a potatoe. I'd be interested in looking at the plant itself and finding out more, because I know I can plant elephant ears in the woods. It would be nice to have some emergency staples growing all the time in the woods.
Ditto to the mushrooms. We have lots of willow and other trees that fall down in storms. When they start to decompose, we get mushrooms. There is a certain type that gets big, ugly (shaped), and milky looking. We know that one is safe. Its a rare treat. For once we can all have our fill on fried or sauteed mushrooms. My family is really a hobbit family, with very tall hobbits; except the house and hairy feet.
Studying herbs at present, so when I get good with plant identification, hopefully there is a feast already waiting for me that I don't have to plant. I've already introduced a few wild plants into the diet. I find the subject facinating.
 
Paul Cereghino
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My favorite is nettles (if you have enough moisture).
 
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