• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Pine woods on sandy soil

 
Richard Gorny
Pie
Posts: 226
Location: Poland, zone 5
33
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi All, I have a few acres of sandy soil with pine trees growing in rows, as shown on attached picture. From permaculture perspective, is there any way to make this land useful for something else than firewood?
pines.jpg
[Thumbnail for pines.jpg]
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3669
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
134
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Richard, I see lots of potential hugelkultur. Maybe thin out so you get more sun to the ground and use the wood in Hugels. Then plant other trees and shrubs, maybe fruit, then plant groundcovers and veggies etc in the hugels and elsewhere.
 
Richard Gorny
Pie
Posts: 226
Location: Poland, zone 5
33
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Miles, thank you for your reply. I have read somewhere that pine wood alone is not appropriate for hugels, is this true?
 
David Goodman
gardener
Posts: 496
Location: Zone 9a/8b
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Depending on your growing zone, you could send edible vines up those. Check out Dioscorea alata, for one particularly impressive example.

Additionally, blueberries seem to love pines and sandy soils.
 
David Goodman
gardener
Posts: 496
Location: Zone 9a/8b
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ah... I see you're zone six. Forget Dioscorea. Maybe currants or grapes instead.
 
Richard Gorny
Pie
Posts: 226
Location: Poland, zone 5
33
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It is definitely too cold for grapes, on the edge of these woods there are small, native blackberry bushes, so I was thinking about planting them. The soil is very poor and dry though, and the deeper in the woods, the less light is there. First step probably would be to cut the weakest trees to allow more sun to reach ground level.
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1331
Location: northern California
42
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Looking at that photo, I would definitely say that every other tree, or every other row, should get thinned out. There simply isn't enough light reaching the ground to grow anything under there. You might create spot-clearings and make a guild around a more useful tree that you would plant there.
Incidentally, near stumps is a good place to plant new permanent plants, especially trees. The new roots will follow the channels left by the old roots as they rot....
 
Richard Gorny
Pie
Posts: 226
Location: Poland, zone 5
33
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A long edge of these woods faces south, the first row of pines from that side is very dense and the trees are twice as thick as the ones inside, have more branches which are denser, and these trees are of course higher than the rest. I wonder if it is reasonable to cut some of these too. Thanks to that sun will penetrate the woods easier, there is a risk however that it will all dry out. What about mulching those rows between pines, is it a good idea?
 
David Bates
Posts: 79
Location: Mountain Grove, Ontario, Canada
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Richard Gorny wrote:on the edge of these woods there are small, native blackberry bushes, so I was thinking about planting them.


I don't think that will work. The Blackberries are verge and full sun plants. As soon as something comes along taller than they are, when they don't get a lot of full sun, they recede. Also, even if you get a nice Grape that likes cold (e.g. Concord) they will not climb Pine. I made a very nice little Pine trellis for my Concord Grapes. They avoid the Pine like the plague, grow away from it.

You could certainly get Wintergreen, Partridge Berry, and Juniper growing in there... if it stays moist.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3669
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
134
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mulching would hold more moisture in. Looks like the ground already has a pretty good layer of needles and branches. What does the soil look like under that? Does it stay moist? Hugel beds would also capture and retain moisture.
 
Richard Gorny
Pie
Posts: 226
Location: Poland, zone 5
33
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
David,
Thanks for this information - very useful to know to not to use pines for trellis.

Miles,
The ground is covered with thin layer of needles, only last year lower dead branches have been cut and left on the ground. Under this layer the soil is sandy and dry for the most part of the year. These woods are on a top of the small sandy hill. Unfortunately rows are perpendicular to the contour. Perhaps narrow hugels/swales made on contour could help to hold some more moisture? I haven't had enough chances to observe how this all looks after heavy rain, but from what I have seen so far puddles disappear rapidly after it stops raining, all sinks in the sand.
 
Richard Gorny
Pie
Posts: 226
Location: Poland, zone 5
33
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To make this topic more clear, here is how the entire property looks like. Red line around are property borders. Arrows indicate terrain slopes. I have marked dominating tree types. Since it is area of protected landscape, we are trying to reduce our impact to absolute minimum. Please note that cutting any trees (except those young pines) reqires special permissions from authorities. The entire area is close to 8 acres (3.2 hectares). Last year our activities were limited to removing garbage and taking care of the house, this is going to be the first year of gardening attempts. We will start with a few raised beds within the yard, but we hope to be able to be self-sufficient in terms of home-grown food in a future. Our dream is to create something similar to the forest garden described in this book I have just read: Secret Garden of Survival by Rick Austin . This book however describes experiences in entirely different environment (heavy, rocky clay soil) while on my property all is sand and finding a stone bigger than 2 inch in diameter is a rare event.

ostoja1.jpg
[Thumbnail for ostoja1.jpg]
 
David Bates
Posts: 79
Location: Mountain Grove, Ontario, Canada
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I used to live in a place that was old sand beach with tall White Pine, Red Pine, Red Oak and Sumac growing everywhere. You could try Red Oak there. They grow deep, their leafs take three years to rot (which will provide humus) and the acorns aren't too bad if you soak them a lot. I prefer White Oak acorns. Is there somebody who would pay you to harvest some of those pines? They are good for building (if you get the bark off as soon as they are down). So build boxes for raised beds? Or a log chicken coop? They are not so good for firewood because they will fill your pipes with creosote. If you can find some Sumac, they spread quickly and make a nice drink...steep the flowers in cool water after they open, before the first rain.

And finally, poison ivy loves that kind of place, watch out.


I just had a close look at your picture and it shows you have Birch. Are you tapping them this Spring? Birch syrup is excellent.
 
Richard Gorny
Pie
Posts: 226
Location: Poland, zone 5
33
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks David, I do have some oaks, they are native to this area. Pines from the first picture are not thick enough to be useful for any serious building, but they can be used for raised beds of course. Thanks for a tip with sumac, seeds and seedlings are available here so I will surely plant some. We are fortunate to not to have poison ivy at all.
We still have snow on the ground and night frosts, hardly can wait to tap my birch trees.
 
David Bates
Posts: 79
Location: Mountain Grove, Ontario, Canada
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Richard,

You are welcome. I just noticed that you are in Poland. I guess the Red vs. White Oak will not help, sorry. The two main types of Oak we have here are Red and White. The Red is full of tannin. The White is sweet. I think the reason that the White is sweet is because the acorns grow on the new growth each year. The Red Oak acorns grow on one year old branches. So you may be able to find tasty acorns in Poland by looking for this.

I am going to stop giving you advice now because I don't know much about what may grow in Poland I hope you enjoy the syrup. This year has been fantastic for Maple sap here, the Birch will start soon too.
 
Richard Gorny
Pie
Posts: 226
Location: Poland, zone 5
33
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Any advice is welcome, since many plant species have their equvalents on both sides of the pond Acorns I have are growing on new growth, so it is quite similar.

 
Daearen Edryd
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Richard!
Looking at the picture you've posted it looks like the pines are over 10 years old and in my humble opinion they are better off being kept where they are.
First of all it's obvious there was a lot of work when they were planted there and it would be pity to see them gone after so many years.
Secondly, the soil could have a higher level of acidity already after so many years and I don't see any improvement in the near future (even though is still a controversy over the fact that pine needles create acidity in the soil).
Thirdly, I would use any other wood than pine or walnut in hugels. I'm in the second year now with my raised beds (in which I used only birch, beechwood and my favourites linden and poplar because they hold water a lot better) and I could say I'm more than happy with the outcome.
Now, it's up to you if you consider that you really need that space and you're absolutely convinced that it's worth to waste the energy that it took to bring up that little forest, there are methods of improving the soil with different cover crops (buckwheat, rye) and nitrogen fixers (Siberian pea shrub, Illinois bundle flower), but all these in time of course.
Keep us posted with your progress!
P5180598.JPG
[Thumbnail for P5180598.JPG]
first hugel
P5280602.JPG
[Thumbnail for P5280602.JPG]
same one finished
P7170648.JPG
[Thumbnail for P7170648.JPG]
after a month and a half
 
Richard Gorny
Pie
Posts: 226
Location: Poland, zone 5
33
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Daearen, wonderful hugel beds, congrats!
You are right, these pines are over 10 years old, they have been planted form state funds - the soil has been considered to be worthless for agriculture and the previous owner got it planted with pines for free. I do not insist on cutting those, all I want is to find a way to incorporate other plants (useful ones) between these. Currently, nothing grows there except a few species of non-edible mushrooms (at fall). Therefore introducing any cover crop might be a challenge, but I will be trying anyway.
I do have another areas for hugel beds (see aerial land view above) - for instance a sandy slope covered by weak grass. The problem is that I'm lacking top soil to cover hugel beds, it will have to be "imported". Before doing that, I want to learn more, about the land itself, and the methods to use - for instance, not sure if swales/hugels on contour will do any good on such sandy slope, where water during rainfall sinks into sand very fast, and the water bed is very deep below the surface. I might start small to see what works and what not.
 
Daearen Edryd
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think is no way to get anything growing in a pine tree forest apart from some mushrooms as you noted. The forest will grow to hold more and more shadow until you'll have really dark in there.
I wouldn't see this a waste because first you have a wind breaker, then you have a very good construction material and finally a delicious syrup every spring made from the yearly fresh growth of those pines branches.
Now, the one who knows the situation best there it's you and I'm sure you'll find a solution there. There is a lot of info everywhere on the web and every problem has a solution.
Best of luck!
 
David Homa
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I live in Otisfield Maine ( zone 4b), in a recently cleared pine forest parcel. . We have been implementing a forest garden successfully for over 4 years now.
 
Richard Gorny
Pie
Posts: 226
Location: Poland, zone 5
33
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks a lot Daearen. I have two areas with young pine trees (like on the first picture), and one area with old pines. I'm not going to touch old ones. If we could live on pine syrup, that would have been great. We are making some early spring, but definitely we need more biodiversity.

David, how have you started? How have you improved your soil? Are you using plant guilds?
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 464
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Didn't the mighty Sepp build his hugel beds out of pine trees?
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think Sepps plantations were spruce.

It is not only shade to contend with... if the site is water limited, than the pine will compete for water with your food. Even if you get a gap in the canopy, it will be a very dry gap.

Also to get significant light penetration, particularly in the early season, you will need a gap that is several tree heights across. I suspect if it is a gov't forest program, they might allow 'pre-commercial thinning' to maintain stem growth, that would allow yield while allowing for some diversification of the understory--perhaps you could get away with some patchy thinning at that time. I would focus on bird habitat, mushrooms, medicinals, maybe forest species production. As some mentioned earlier, this forest also produces kindling, drier places, cool air, wind protection, and pine needles.
 
Richard Gorny
Pie
Posts: 226
Location: Poland, zone 5
33
books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Paul, I have been observing the soil yesterday, during a storm, and after. While the yard got wet nicely, this forest stayed pretty dry, so you are right.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 855
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The generalized estimate I have heard in a forest setting (full canopy) is that interception and evaporation catches roughly half of rainfall (and more of individual rain fall events except when it really dumps.) This is useful for big picture hydrology, but a challenge for farming in forests. Always good to get our and watch water during a real downpour! Topography within the stand could concentrate rainfall, or bring water in from outside the stand, creating pockets for production.
 
Jason LaVoy
Posts: 20
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm in a similar situation with jack pines in sandy soil. I do have A LOT of wild blueberries, but only some of them fruit.(?) I'm new to permaculture and everyone here seems to know so much! I haven't done anything on my land yet. Still trying to figure everything out. Is there something I should start doing right away?
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 464
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A forest retains it's moisture in the soil it creates. All that rotting wood, regardless of it's type, will do this. This is just the way nature works.

There is a lot of Jack pine forest where I live, and a lot of it is on bedrock. I have not yet built a hugel bed from jack pine but I see no reason why it would not be awesome in the environment where it grows.

Have you noticed how fast jack pine decomposes? It's total crap for building with because it makes such an awesome sponge
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic