• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Leigh Tate
  • jordan barton
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Greg Martin
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • Nancy Reading
  • Mike Barkley
  • L. Johnson

What support species / pioneers work for food forests in upstate New York (Adirondacks zone 4a)?

 
Posts: 5
Location: Adirondacks & Hawaii
hugelkultur forest garden greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello!

I am working on a food forest / forest garden in upstate New York, but I’m from Hawaii so I’m not very familiar with this whole temperate eastern forest thing. Mostly I am trying to learn about what species may work as support species. What options are there as far as plants that can grow quickly and be chopped back to boost soil fertility? Are these methods (methods like chop n drop, pollarding of fast-growing pioneers, etc) even viable in this climate / environment? Also, when is the best time of year to do the chopping? Seems like the process of leaves dropping in the fall is essentially natures chop n drop mechanism of adding fertility to the soil, but everything I’ve seen says to prune in spring. Maybe someone can explain to me the best way to think about this or point me in the right direction.

More specific site background:
We are converting former pasture / semi wooded areas with varied topography but generally south facing gentle slopes, good draining soils w/ swales and hugelkultur. The project is almost 6 years old. I had only been working on it during some summers but recently moved up here year round so I’ll be fully invested in this project now. Many fruit trees and productive species were planted, things like pears, apricots, plums, apples, shipova, hazelnut, blueberries, currants, elderberry, seaberry, hops, haskap, serviceberry, bur oaks, Joel bush cherry, lingonberry, raspberry. They are doing fine, some better than others, but some of the trees in particular seem to be quite alone and in need of companions and support species.

The past 2 years the project has seen some mostly beneficial neglect due to covid, which allowed the system to advance mostly undisturbed. So coming back after that hiatus I’ve noticed that there are other “wild” trees moving in, things like poplar and cherry. Are these potential candidates for support species? I’ve read that species like birch, beech, fire cherry, and poplars, (all of which we have on site) are considered pioneers that quickly grow after a disturbance, which sounds promising as pioneer support species. We also have various maples, pines, etc. Does anyone have any experience using these or other plants as support species?

Thanks for the help.
366A9A0C-8722-4301-99C5-014700FE152F.jpeg
Project site a few weeks ago
Project site a few weeks ago (red chair is actually a gigantic 10ft chair)
C90CDC63-75CA-4DEF-AD69-23607347F2B2.jpeg
September this year
September this year
38F55A97-B692-449A-8FE6-A0E15F98D5B7.jpeg
Some areas are more cleared, others have some existing woodland
Some areas are more cleared, others have some existing woodland
D11174D8-8F80-4B3F-8D81-7A9B767675BB.jpeg
Poplars, cherries, etc are growing quickly amongst our plantings
Poplars, cherries, etc are growing quickly amongst our plantings
 
pollinator
Posts: 741
Location: Chicago
214
dog forest garden fish foraging urban cooking food preservation bike
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not sure I understand what you mean by a support species.  Are you looking for other (non-fruit) trees to interplant, or things like grasses and forbs to fill in the ground level?
 
Jay Smart
Posts: 5
Location: Adirondacks & Hawaii
hugelkultur forest garden greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mk Neal wrote:I'm not sure I understand what you mean by a support species.  Are you looking for other (non-fruit) trees to interplant, or things like grasses and forbs to fill in the ground level?



Yea, support species are plants whose primary function is to support the growth of our main productive species. Typically fast-growing pioneers that help to transition the system and advance forest succession by creating biomass, fixing nitrogen, creating fertility, habitat, etc.. They are a natural part of every forest, the first to grow back after a disturbance such as a tree fall, fire, logging, etc. They do no necessarily provide a yield like fruits to eat, but they provide benefits to the system as a whole.
 
Willie Smits increased rainfall 25% in three years by planting trees. Tiny ad:
Rocket Mass Heater Manual - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/8/rmhman
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic