I'm guessing that transplanting these with some root material already attached will be a lot quicker than throwing down a pad and waiting for new roots to grow, similar to experience with aloe vera.
Edit - just occurred these might have grown from seed not root propagation. I'll see if I get time to dig one up tomo.
Again, thank you all for the good work!
Upon reading about eucalyptus and mesquite, I felt the need to intrude. Here in Northern California, the white people who settled the "open land" for farms and homesteads, planted copious quantities of eucalyptus EVERYWHERE. These trees may not mind the drought, however, they noticed that marshes near the eucalyptus groves were literally disappearing before their eyes. Soon it became so well-known that our American government declared that all states should "reclaim" their marshland (thus causing massive extinctions) and in California this often meant planting eucalyptus all around the marsh. Eucalyptus trees transpire water out of the soil at a rate much quicker than most other plants, and I have heard the same about mesquite—these plants dry the soil. Eucalyptus also makes very poor firewood, is extremely flammable, and it suppresses the growth of other plants, even once it's felled (and it will grow back immediately). Maybe you don't mind these qualities where you live, but in California the eucalyptus grow so quickly that even where there are native trees sprouting up they smother them immediately. Maybe you have already taken this into account.
In addition, I am confused about the general use of invasive plants in permaculture, especially the acacia trees. I understand that "invasive" is a subjective term, and that in permaculture we want vigorous plants which create lots of biomass and suppress weeds. Maybe in Japan, Fukuoka could use acacias without any problems, but where I live in Northern California, acacia trees are a major weed problem. Are there certain species which are not so invasive?
Thank you! Good luck everybody, amazing forum,
In dry/desert like climates we dream of having trees that are a weed problem - trees and shrubs which are invasive in one place can hardly grow in other places - robinia pseudo acacia for example, which is a strong drought tolerant tree, simply will not grow from seed (without watering in my areas) and young trees planted need watering and care - otherwise have a high failure rate.
This is the major problem for dry places - to identify what the land wants to grow.
I imagine for Northern California you do need to be careful so you do not get overrun by invasive plants.
As far as eucalyptus trees, I was informed by a friend in Cyprus that there are over 700 varieties to choose from - maybe not all of them have the same characteristics, but it is indeed, prudent to be careful - thank you for pointing this out Caleb.
As I am writing this I read an article about the drought in California, and about underground water use for the "water thirsty almond trees" - it's amazing - we have taken what appears to be a super drought tolerant tree, and have turned it into a water thirsty tree in order to increase production.
In fairness here in Southern Europe, we have done the same with the olive tree.
Thank you for your reaffirmation of my worries about causing problems in my woods by planting acacias. I do indeed see your strong point that the shading, nitrogen-fixation, and leaf/litter-drop are very necessary for the start of a food forest, especially in a dry climate, most especially in a barren and dry climate. My climate does historically get more Winter rain than yours, however we do have the Mediterranean characteristic annual intense Summer drought from May May to October.
As for the water-wasting nutrient-polluting almond orchards and the vineyards and dairies in my state, it makes me too sad/angry to write about here. Using incredibly fertile land to produce copious amounts of wine and beef and cheese at the expense of the land and health of the community at whole.
Thank you so much for sharing that article with me, it was extremely helpful and I am definitely less confused. I know that I must be careful to not introduce a species which can potentially out-compete my beloved oak-woodland—I plan on starting to do an annual acorn harvest—and the point about the douglas fir being invasive struck deep, considering how many hours Ive spent axing down dougfirs which are growing up into the canopy of the oaks and bigleaf maples. I am surprised I had never heard of the idea that dougfirs are invasive, but it makes so much sense and I appreciate so much your reaffirmations. Now if only somebody could direct me to an article or website which listed nitrogen-fixing, litter-producing, drought-tolerant trees which will not out-compete my native oaks/madrones or my fruit trees, but will grow well while establishing the food forest and of course encourage the health of the maturing food forest but only until the canopy closes and this tree could be fully controlled to allow an herb layer to grow—without producing seeds which will wander away from the food forest and invade the woods. That was a mouthful.... ha!
Acacias have been mentioned, and here is an article about a farm in a dry part of Australia which used clay seed balls to establish acacia on arid land.
There are some natural cracks in the rock which have filled in with soil/sand and have some small native ground cover, I've put some prickly pear pads from my garden on those.
And also a whole small prickly pear plant complete with roots.
I'll keep throwing the pads down, and the occasional rooted plant, and see how they get on. Meanwhile some seeds have arrived and I am working on getting some small trees growing at home where I can care for them daily. Still looking for a good source of sweet almonds to throw down in the way Kostas does it.
Thank You for the Milkwood.net link - it's a great article.
I have tried acacia mearnseii and the other acacia's mentioned with no luck - I will try them again with the scarification they recommended - I would love it, if even if one of them works out - I am sure they will grow if there is uniform ground cover to provide shape.
The small seed balls they show, have not worked out me - they are not able to withstand the heavy rains, we usually get at the end of the summer (they just melt away) - so large cubes reinforced with straw are needed for around here. Again, they have great info and good results - its great !!!
Pictures tell a lot - I did not realize just how challenging of a site you have - it takes a big person to take on a site like this "may the force be with you" - let us know if we can help - good luck.
Any almonds will do - at least they have around here.
Here's a pic of a check dam that was put in perhaps many decades ago. It's only less than a metre high, probably took a few hrs to build, but the benefit in terms of soil and plant life that have accumulated upstream are immediately evident.
2nd pic is a few stones I have thrown down in another place, see if I can build some more soil.
There is a great thread on capers with plenty of info --- http://www.permies.com/t/34882/plants/Success-planting-caper-seeds-plant
It would be great if they grow on your land.
Caleb Peretz wrote:Kostas,
Now if only somebody could direct me to an article or website which listed nitrogen-fixing, litter-producing, drought-tolerant trees which will not out-compete my native oaks/madrones or my fruit trees, but will grow well while establishing the food forest and of course encourage the health of the maturing food forest but only until the canopy closes and this tree could be fully controlled to allow an herb layer to grow—without producing seeds which will wander away from the food forest and invade the woods. That was a mouthful.... ha!
There are lots of acacias and many are a nightmare (most of the called "mimosa" are). You need to do a lot of research before planting. The three-thorn "acacia" (Gleditsia triacanthos), I believe it is also called locus tree, only seeds easily when the seeds go through a herbivore's digestive system, so if you plan to shelter your forest from herbivores it might be a good choice (I'm doing it).
I agree with Konstantinos that many "invasive" plants are only so in milder climates, with more water. You always hear that comphrey is invasive and that you can't get rid of it. Than any lottle root will sprout. Well, I'm on my 3rd comphrey plant (teh first 2 died in summer) and it only survives because I put it in the nursery, where I can check it evey day and it's facing North. How can such a delicate plant be considered invasive??
I'm cheering for you from Madrid!!
Capers are delicious and very sought after in posh restaurants and definitively a good cash crop, specially if you process them yourself, which is easy. Do look into it.
Your land looks tough. Have you measured day-night temperature difference? This can be a huge stress for plants and it's where rocks facing South come in handy.
What king of native vegetation do you have? Is it any good for honey bees?
Please keep us posted on you experiences.
Thank you for your words or encouragement and information! I actually spoke to one of my professors yesterday, he is THE "weed science" expert of California. He told me he has never seen Acacia dealbata or Acacia decurrens, two common ornamentals in cities in my region, become invasive in my state, except maybe the northernmost county which is a very different climate than the rest of the state, more like Oregon than like California. So you are right! He said the same thing about Buddleia (butterfly bush) that it is extremely invasive in Oregon and Washington, but not at all in California.
So, your words are confirmed!
In the coldest yrs a very cold night might get down to 10C.
The stuff that grows native without interference are some grasses, cactuses, aloes, salt cedars and something from the onion family that I haven't identified. Also looking to positively identify a common bush/tree that grows unaided round here as per this thread... http://www.permies.com/t/45821/desert/ID-desert-tree-grows-irrigation not convinced its a retama.
Regards - Steve
I saw that thread about the tree and I don't think it's a retama, either. It might be called "retama tree" but it does not look like in the retama family, at least as I know it here. Is it a legume? It'll be nice to see some pics of the flower and fruit/seed. A good place to ID plants in the Infojardin forum (Spanish language) http://foro.infojardin.com/forums/identificar-especies-vegetales.6/ There are lots of knowledgeable people in this forum and they have helped me a lot.
15ºC difference is not too bad, specially if you don't go under 0 ºC. I have recorded a max of 46 ºC during the day and - 2 ºC min at night in the same spot, the same calender day in my land.
I don't know the plants you mention too well as they don't grow very well (or at all) around here. But I do know that Tamarix (if that's the salt cedar you refer to) is good for making honey. Honey bees are a good way to make money in places where climate and soil do not allow for other crops. If you can find native and/or tough plants that can make it in your land and have flowers year around, you could make some money with honey and other bee products. If your land does not have enough rain to sustain lots of trees and water hungry plants (like most vegetables), aiming for a maquis of bee friendly plants might be a good idea.
How much water do you have per year?
It's a joy reading this thread. Thank you for initiating it and feeding us with your progress!
I think it's time for zone 6; the (reforestation) zone beyond our properties. If zone 6 can hardly be called an ecosystem, what do our top notch zones 1-5 really mean?
If we don't interfere and make a change for the better here, than who will? Governments? Business? Big agriculture?
I'll be relocating from The Netherlands to Spain in the near future to fiddle around with a couple of ha. Of course my time will be taken up by all sorts of things and the main focus will be on my own plot, especially in the first phase. But despite that, nearby land in decline won't be safe from almond stones & co. You know who's to blame for that Thank you for sharing your experiences. Lot's of other ideas. For now just a link I think belongs here:
Yes its tamarix. The "retama" also has lots of bees in it, another clue it's some sort of cedar?
There are some yellow flowers just beginning to form on the "retama" so when they are fully formed I'll take some photos.
Meanwhile I have some small trees growing in the garden where there is no irrigation. I live about 12 km from the desert plot but at higher altitude and in a part of the island where it rains more in the winter, tho still dry for 6mths or so each summer. It's much greener but everything that grows has to be irrigated or drought resistant, so I've taken a couple of these little trees (or bushes?) for the desert plot.
interestingly this species is protected as used to be tall specimens that have disappeared due to overgrazing and logging. So the area I am foresting may have previously already been forested. I'll try to find out some more about the protection and whether the ravaging hordes of privately owned goats destroying greenery on other peoples' land can be stopped.
Thanks for the link - I have seen Dr. Liu's documentaries - very inspiring.
It's definitely not too late to repair the damage - given some breathing room and a little help, the earth can repair itself very quickly.
Good luck with your work in Spain - most of all enjoy - keep us posted.
All the seeds I placed in December are now sprouting all over the place - I hope they survive their 1st summer - we will see - it's a joy to see them, and to imagine how they will be 15 - 20 years from now.
Great your seeds are sprouting. It'll never stop being a miracle. I brought a few almond stones from Spain and planted them here (NL) on the balcony mid Feb. They're also sprouting.
Is your sprouting rate good on average? I was thinking it may be worth while to incorporate a bit of the zai-method where sprouting is a problem. Or even where seedlings don't survive the summer. Do you think it may pay off to create something like a small pit and put in a bit from the surrounding organic matter? With some soils/tools it must be possible to do this in a couple of seconds or am I too optimistic here? If rabbits are the bigger challenge than it would be a waste of effort of course. What's the ideal depth to plant almond stones? The man from permaculture orchard was demonstrating a "bean stick" in his video which speeds up planting significantly. There's also a DIY version which I can't find the link to at the moment.
Albizia julibrissin may be a candidate to add to the mix. <-- supposed to be allelopathic...
Sprouting rate: Shame on me for not measuring accurately - sprouting rate appears to be "almost" total - almond stones and apricots are placed about 3 - 6 cm in depth -say about 4 cm average - if you place them below say 6 cm, they may have trouble sprouting.
It's so easy to place the seeds in the ground or to make clay cubes, and we need to "plant" millions, that there is no time t give them individual attention.
On page 4 of this thread we have a "tool" that we been using for seed placement - it can always use improvement - if you can find the "bean stick" link that would be great to see if it helps - 500 seeds an hour is a pretty good rate we achieved this season - I am pretty happy with it - it would be nice if the robotics engineers at our esteemed universities, come up with small "mice" like robots that are efficient and inexpensive so we can directly plant even more - but, we need to be careful - greed even for a good cause can do harm - with so many people unemployed, we should do what Franklin Roosevelt did, and put people to work doing good productive work - planting trees/reforesting.
I tried Albizia Julibrissin - it just did not want to grow by itself - it needs care for the 1st year - it's a great tree and you should definitely try it at your sites to see how it does -it may work in your area. I am sure Albizia Julibrissin will do well, once a ground cover has been established - its a beautiful tree.
Alright, the sprouting rate is definitely on our side than!
So planting speed and simply outnumbering the critters is basically what's making sense here? I guess that many "hardy" species only deserve the title after they're established. Starting from seed with the STUN-method is a whole different ball game. Your experiences with different species in this regard is very valuable. Indeed we need to accumulate data from many different locations and species. I'd be more than happy to contribute once I get my hands on some Spanish territory. I'm not an IT-person, but eventually a database seems in order here. Do you know if anything like it exist for this specific research topic?
I've found the link to the DIY seed planter: https://thinmac.wordpress.com/a-homemade-seed-planter/
When tweaked for almond stones and the like, my guess is you can even speed up your already very impressive seeding rate.
I eventually found the link after I saw a commercial specimen in the video about the permaculture orchard. The ones on offer that I found were probably too expensive for the likes of this thrifty Dutchman. It's a while ago.
Albizia Julibrissin seeds are sprouting here in the windowsill. I'm thinking a lot of shade with those feathery leave structures. I'm a little reluctant because of the alleged allelopathy. Found some reassuring info on permies about it tho. Where else should it have been Of course it is hardly ever as simple as allelopathic or not. We know next to nothing about nature, or anything else for that matter. At least it makes the journey a lot more fun.
These are great designs - they do need somewhat soft/worked soil - most of the soil I am working with is a bit hard even if wet, you need a tool that allows you to step on it and push down.
As far as a database - that's a good idea - sharing info in this forum is a good start. It takes a long time to id trees that survive long hot summers - it's not easy.
Spring came extremely early this year and we are now eating ripe apricots. The sweet fruit is truly a miracle! I would like to save the seeds for planting my new food forests. I believe that it would be best to keep from planting them until the Winter (correct?), so how should I store the apricot seeds until then? should i take the seed out of the pit? Should I dry them out or not? Should they be cold or not? (obviously not kept warm). And I will be collecting bitter almonds and Cali black walnut later in the season.
Thank you for the info,
Its easy to store the apricot seeds (and all others) - just put them in the basement - away from direct sunlight and heat, so they do not dry out - smaller seeds like prunes are more susceptible to drying out and dying - so away form sunlight - no refrigerator - place them in the ground in the middle of the winter - Dec and mid Jan
Good luck and Thank You !!!
Hello Heather - let us know how it goes!!!
I think we have mentioned this before, but its worth repeating - make sure your seeding area is protected from grazing animals - there is not much you can do about mice and wild rabbits, which depending on your location will have some impact - but goats especially are lethal - nothing survives their passage.
If you have the time please describe your local climate.
On another matter which maybe of interest for those of us interested in sustainable food independence, this year I discovered another wild plant that grows abundant in my area, which tastes great, and its free for the taking - its called Scolymnus hispanicus - I will add it to our diet along with the chicory, Sonchus oleraceus and caper leaves - its a great addition.
I also started eating this time of the year, a combination of very tender mulberry leaves, and tender grape leaves (with a small potato thrown in) - they get cooked like spinach (boiled and olive oil and vinegar or lemon is added for taste). - They both easy to grow without any fertilizers or pesticides, and they make a good meal.
I hope this helps
I am interested to hear that you eat mulberry leaves. I have a little mulberry that I keep coppiced and I enjoy the tender tips in cooked greens mixtures. I have a small grapevine with which I do the same thing. Sounds a lot like your greens mixtures. I have heard that caper leaves are good to eat, and wish I could get hold of a plant or seeds. My climate is very dry, high elevation, not too cold in the winter but very windy. Our soils are on the alkaline, saline side. There hasn't been too much that I can't manage to grow, though, except for tropicals and subtropicals.
Today I saw some fresh, seed-type Turkish pistachios on EBay and ordered them, with daydreams of growing a tiny little pistachio grove.
That is super great, we have similar climates and similar challenges, and similar goals!
Hi from the canary island La Palma, I have more water than the south of Tenerife....
I also have "retama", mine being with white flowers.
Good for bees.
Goats eat the seeds.
Most of our flora is good food only for goats... So it is is fair to look for human food!
I have some eucalyptus citriodora, dunno if they also suck a lot of water...
So the olive tree can dry a land?
I have put some here "of course"...
I am also looking for an acacia solution, but this is discouraging because there are so many!
I was interested in a thorny hedge, at the moment I have dovyalis and natal plum which are thorny.
I would like some Californian oak, I bet it can be good for here!
And I would like to grow grapes for drying, wich means seedless like corintha.
Problem: we are disease free, so this is forbiden to get vines in! Well roots... is there an other solution ?
I was also thinking about growing caper trees...
I am growing a new variety of "tunera" (opuntia) from seeds, and I was so surprised by they liking for shade!
i almost lost my seedlings, and they were saved by shady heat!
I also grow chayamansa from cuttings. They like water but the stem swell and then they are druoght resistant. Very good green!
I give a try to the maya nut. It is from rain forest but are super grought resistant. But here they stop growing for 6 months.... they start again just now.
Almonds here grow wild and resist drought.
I guess they produce less than in California...
I guess you eat the white mulberry? Like silk worms...
I also have yucca bacata, and give a try to the desert watermelon, the one with edible root and seeds.
About my climate, my challenge is that it is "not hot enough" for most drought resistant plants!
But of course it dries less.
Last summer, we barely went over 30ºC....
This year we already reached close to 40 during a few days, "calima" wind from Sahara...
And climate is quite different every year.
Scolymnus hispanicus is not difficult to clean - there are many youtube videos - many in Spanish showing the harvesting and cleaning process - in any case - it's another free food source that is delicious and nutritious.
How do you cook the mulberry and grape leaves ?
Capers are super drought tolerant - one way to grow them is through root cuttings.
Try different things and see what grows on your land - as time goes on and you plant many closely spaced trees for ground cover, you will change the microclimate of your land and you will be able to grow trees and plants that you are not currently able to grow.
In a few weeks here, the cactus pads will begin to grow - I look forward to trying them again, and making them part of our diet - it's another free food source.
The pistachios are should do well.
Thank you for your input - that's a lot of information and questions to be asked.
As far I know olive trees do not dry up the land if grown naturally - modern intensive agriculture uses a lot of fertilizers, pesticides and water to grow olive oil - it does dry up the land - it's not good for anyone, and hopefully it will stop.
How do you grow opuntia from seeds ? any special preparations?
Do you eat the chaya leaves ? are they edible year round or just in the spring?
Almonds - I read that in California to grow 1 almond they use 1 gallon of water - if it's true that's truly amazing ?
About cactus seeds: I sow all the packet this winter, may be 25, in 1 pot with normal soil, some compost, but adding some gritty stuff for security: drenage.
I have 12 seedlings. Some grew so close that I had to risk a transplant at the stage of the little hairy head between cotyledons... I tryes to keep all the root they had.
They looked great in their individual pots! Then I saw they were changing color, more reddish, and they did not look great. I guessed it was with spring su, so I put them under the growing table. This table has a plastic sheet (or else lezards climb and eat seedlings!).
So they had shade and a lot more heat.
They are now green and with a good growth.
ok, you want pics....
I have ordered 2 more varieities.
I will plant pads form a local one that is very spiny, with red round fruits, that gives ALL YEAR LONG! It grows naturally at low altitude near the coast. I can try to gather seeds if someone is interrested.
This morning I watered the seedlings carefully with a little bottle. I do not wet them, just the soil. I keep them in the shade. I guess they would naturally grow only between stones -> shade... So, this method is not for direct sowing: packets never have enough seeds for this! I do it for getting a new variety, this one is with larger fruit. I bought some that have spineless fruitss, and another with red fruits.
About chaya: I eat them only in summer and autumn! They shed leaves here because of the "cold", I mean belw 10ºC....
They are edible only cooked, like manihot esculenta leaves.
It is easy to have new tender leaves: just cut regularly the young shoots.
About almonds: Steve, I guess also in Tenerife there should be a "germo banco". Here in La Palma they can give us some local seeds. This proyect is about saving local varieties, even beans and melons. I am giving a try to a corn variety from the dry eastern island: it is supposed to be shorter, resist wind and drought better.
Here we have a lot of old varieties that were imported long time ago, as for vine.
People sow bitter almonds, not sweet almonds. Bitter ones resist better to drought. Then you have to graft of course. But the result is stronger.
I do not agree that any seed will do. There are a lot of varieties, and they are not adapted to exactly the same climate and altitude. Also, some have bland shell, great, but great for rats. I had some with hard shell, a nightmare to open, but I kept them good for eating more than 2 years... Also, some go out of the green outshell easy and others tsay lng on the tree, and you have to deshell twice sometimes!
I will see the result I have with the "watermelon" foetidissima. This one should grow with little care...
Great work with the cactus seeds - you have a lot of patience and skill !!! If you have pics that would be great - thank you.
I am going to search to see if they have chaya trees here - it would be nice to have them sounds like another almost free food source.
Almonds - because I plant them by the thousands, I am forced to buy the regular almonds - they almost all sprout - the agronomists here are of the same opinion you mentioned, that the bitter ones are much stronger - we are just using them for ground cover.
I have not yet tested the droought tolerance after establishing. I was told something better than what they mention in wikipedia.
I think it is a garden plant more than for wild planting.
It is not frost hardy, though can recover from root if little frost. Here with 10ºc it looses its leaves, and put them again right now. Good summer green.
I would love to have the scolymus hispanicus some spanish people from inland told me about eating it in their childhood.
I want to try cardo mariano also.
I received 2 more prickly pear varieties today, from trade wind fruits.
And I will definitely try to find caper seeds, just want to know more when and how to sow them for success!
I am not very good with seeds, but quite good with transplanting, I don't even know why. I had success even with a 3years old steawberry guava that was in flower. Of course I 1st cut the flowers. I just think I do it very slow and respect the roots.