We want to cover and mulch over the whole area, lasagna style, but need a good seed mix ready to get going so that the area isn't just re-colonised by surrounding grass and undesirables(not weeds).
We have some established rhubarb plants we will divide and distribute under most of the fruit trees and I'm thinking some kind of alliums as well but really need some suggestions for the in-between areas.
Thinking of dandylions, dwarf clover, newzealand spinach, maybe sorrel...
The area is on a bit of a south facing side slope at the base of a short 45 degree slope leading up to a future shop. (hoping to terrace and plant the steeper slope later)
The area collects LOTS of snow in the winter (3-4') to charge the water-batteries in the mulch but we plan on not watering anything.
18" of good black soil over silty clay loam.
Zone 3 in southern Manitoba (an hour north of US border)
I look forward to input from those further down the permie path- wich is almost everyone!
"We do not go into the green woods and crystal waters to rough it; we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home." Nessmuk
also jerusalem artichokes are a similar thing, tiny roots grow, but it doesn't go quite as deep, it should grow in your climate.
you can also use insectary plants like daylillies and siberian iris..careful of malva, it is a great insectory with a very deep taproot but it seeds prolifically, so only use it where there is enough room for it.
I'd love to build up to a mix with 25 or 30 species in it to have on hand for any disturbed soil.
Definately need some spinach in the mix. We've had great luck with leaving our spinach to self seed and over-winter. It's a joy to harvest fresh greens poking through the snow in spring long before anything else is stirring(besides dandelion maybe).
I also like to have greens overseed and generally pick spinach in the winter in my greenhouse
Anything that is edible and less than 2feet I would plant. It is going to take 15-30lbs of seed per acre. @$10/lbs.
But anything is better than nothing.
I also plant lots of Iris, the roots of which are used for skin care products, and alliums all over the place... All of my "extra" garlic at the end of the garlic eating season gets tossed out underneath the fruit trees... Chives look SO Beautiful when they're blooming beneath fruit trees...
I am willing to listen to criticism about this but I think i would avoid jeruslem artichokes and horseradish as the both are underground and spread like mad...you do not want to dig up your roots to either harvest or to kill them....better to have them at the edge of the orchards.
they will make a solid mat of roots and can be divided and moved many many times ..and live "forever"..even in old barnyards..they'll compete agains the grass too as I have planted them out in open fields..(you can do that with oriental poppies also)..
bulk seeds of flax, field peas, clovers, buckwheat, echinacea and some of the above mentioned will create a ground cover that will suit various exposed conditions, compete with grasses, and prep the sites for future cultivation when you're ready for it.
nanking cherry will suffer seasons with late frosts, but their taproot from seed or deep-potted sapling will double for an edible edge and terrace support. a species i have yet to work with is sea buckthorn which make great soil holders, fix nitrogen, produce medicinal berries, and make excellent windbreaks and thorny hedges. slopes can sustain large yams if you have some stoney areas (look into sepp holzer's work for a lot of this). alliums galore, hyssops, anise hyssops, wildflowers will ensure soil-building, green manure, and tons of pollinators and predatory insects to keep your prized plants healthy.
for the shade you have american ginseng, ferns, goldenseal, primroses, ephemerals (ramp patches take a few years to get going but you will thank yourself later!) of a great many kinds, solomon's seal, gooseberry, woodland nettles (love em fried with eggs in summer and soup in winter!), purslane, brambles, small-bush blueberries can take some shade, as can lingonberries is given optimal soil.
i've found inoculation of seeds with mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen fixing bacteria (specific to fixers selected) critical to establishment. you can get away with things you wouldn't you'll be contending with years of grass seed banks so heavy mulching will be important. the soil will also likely be bacterial-dominated and lacking the fungal environment suitable to trees, shrubs, and woodland herbs. access to wood chips from a power line or roadside maintenance company is an excellent source for free material. you might even get lucky and find yourself with an edible mushroom patch here or there, but at the least you will be suppressing the ideal conditions for the undesired plants, creating non-compacting paths (hopefully spongy with mycelium), and changing the soil biology toward a food forest system.
Brenda Groth wrote:speaking of iris which I love another ornamental plant that a lot of people don't realize is edible and that grows prolifically is the daylillies
I may be interpreting this wrong, but this sounds like the iris is also an edible.
Just want to make sure no one else interprets it this way.
My understanding is that only a few species of iris have limited edible uses, but most have no edible uses and many are, in whole or in part, toxic.
Julia Winter wrote:Daylily petals are delicious. They have a vaguely cucumberish taste if they are thick. You can apparently throw the unopened flower buds into a stir-fry, but I like seeing the open flowers, so I've never tried it.
I can't eat sugars & grains (diabetic) so I'm always looking for low-carb food options, and I've discovered that you can stuff day lily flowers. I like to use the same stuff you'd put in crab rangoon: cream cheese, crab meat, onions & herbs. Take out the center part of the flower first, of course, then just spoon your filling in. Makes for a very pretty appetizer if you have guests, too; you can even serve them in a champagne glass if you want to be all fancy.
Anyway, I'm a bit south of you in zone 5, but day lilies grow like crazy around here and I'd highly recommend them if they're hardy there.