I am close to wit's end in getting some forest-garden style guilds set up. Between the slugs, deer, elk, and crows, I have lost over 200 seedlings this season. Now a reasonable person might have stopped long ago, but since that means about 50 of the seedlings are still in place, I am considering this a success.
I've planted 8 trees with sheetmulched circles around them. I've also sheetmulched a long strip along a decomissioned fence. These are the areas I want to plant with various insectiary, herbs, and butterfly/bird attractors.
A simple solution of course is to fence it all in, but that doesn't seem very permacultural. From all I can gather, the only technique really mentioned is to plant either deer repellant plants or something that they find even more attractive somewhere else.
My frustrations come in that something like that could take many years to establish; meanwhile I am trying to get my long neglected yard and orchard back into shape with these plantings.
Individual cages would work, but I would need hundreds of them! larger "guild-scale" fences would also work but I don't see how to do that affordable and definitely not aesthetically.
Permaculture writings often just skip over these really pragmatic issues. How can I build a "forest garden" when I can't even get a seedling to last 2 days? Its very frustrating to see seeds that I first had to track down and order, then sprout and transplant using lots of small pots.
I suppose one permacultural approach is to just plant seed directly where I want it and let the tough survive, but I am not sure how to do that with sheetmulching (where I am planting through holes punched in the cardboard).
I mostly needed to vent to people who might understand, but any tactics or tips would be appreciated.
I am thinking there is no choice but to deer-fence about half my yard. I just hate the closing-off of hte space. It makes it harder to get to, harder to run hoses, harder to enjoy. Thats what I meant by not permacultural I guess. But I have blown over $200 in seeds and seedlings now. Last year I guess I just had beginners luck; I lost a few plants but most of them made it. So this year I ramped up in earnest, and have very little to show for it.
In other news, though, I have a very strange volunteer quinoa about 50 yards from the main batch. Birds?? This is the first year they were planted, they are just now "graining" out. No idea how the seed got there; I carried the starts from house down to the patch when they were 6" tall. Life is amazing.
My neighbors have either old fashioned "organic" gardens (tidy rows, lots of inputs), only work in greenhouses, or have small colonies of fenced areas. I was eager to show that this area is ripe for raw forest gardens, but I guess I'm pretty naive. Time will tell I suppose. I plan to fence off a large orchard which will be planted more or less forest garden style, and then also a large patch of the front yard which will be shrubs and wildflowers and herbs among a few trees. Then I guess like my neighbors, set out some tiny guilds inside tiny fences. Not sure what to do about the slugs yet. Over time I will learn which plants the deer ignore out in the "wild" and get those going. Its hard to learn this stuff when an experiment can take 10 years...
mantid wrote: A simple solution of course is to fence it all in, but that doesn't seem very permacultural.
Why don't you grow a live fence? That is very permaculture. For instance, check out pages 8&9 in Gaia's Garden, 2nd ed., where Toby Hememway goes into deer-deflecting hedges and the like. Such barriers are discussed in much of the permaculture literature. There are lots of thorny, fast-growing species that fulfil several functions at once -- they not only deflect the critters but provide edible foliage, fruits, and roots; wood for building and fuel; they can serve as windbreaks, etc. Just work them into your design. At the very least, they can cut down on the sheer amount of man-made fencing you'd have to purchase and erect.
As for slugs, as someone once said, you don't have a slug surplus you have a duck deficiency. Of course, that's only one way to handle slugs but it might be worth considering as another solution that also provides multiple benefits... as well as creates some new problems, but on balance, [s]like women[/s], they might be worth it.
We have deer totally ruling the whole area where we live....Even a "deer VERY resistant" plant it's been nibbled down to the nubbins........ But then came back......
I'm also trying some guilds under my trees........... I'm fencing my trees [$ouch!], but plan to remove them once the trees / guilds are very well established and just leave a trunk protection.....I'm planting LOTS of garlic and herbs between the other plants I want to establish..... We will see......
I think a dog would be VERY helpful...We don't live full time at our homestead yet, so a dog won't work YET......