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forest garden in mountainside forest-help please

 
Bryan Isaac
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Hello, we have 20 acres of land on the side of a mountain which has fir, spruce, birch, cedar and many shrubs. It is very rocky (it is the side of a mountain), but lots of understory shrubs and mosses. I'm assuming the soil is acidic because of the mosses and evergreens. Tried a small hugelkulture bed and had poor spindly growth of the potatoes and beans, the corn never came up.
We have a cleared area which we hope to turn into a food forest but I'm wondering how to start. Would green manure (clover alfalfa) be of benefit, wood ash ? I am currently mulching with straw around shrubs and it seems to be working to retain moisture.
Also are there any recommendations for fruit trees and shrubs that like acidic soil (we have some blueberries started and they like acidic soil and are doing quite well). We are in a very mild area of southern BC, lots of orchards in the valley (apples, plums, pears, grapes, cherries etc).
Last thing, deer and bears are problems - we have fruit trees protected right now but I hate the predator fencing look - any thoughts here ?
Thanks so much for any and all direction and thoughts.
 
Sean Banks
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If you are the side of a mountain I would do some keyline swales for irrigation and perhaps some terracing to prevent erosion. For fencing consider a living fence....things with thorns like osage orange.
 
Landon Sunrich
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I don't know that Corn and Ceder are two plants I have ever though of growing near each other...

I think shrubs and berries could quite possibly be you're friends here. Bushy ones: Raspberries, salal, and the like. And creepy one: strawberry trailing black cap - I hesitate to say Himalayan Blackberry but I have seen it trellis itself 60 feet into ceder trees, which where still climbable and pickable. Some shrubs and trees form complex associations and begit mushrooms of tastyness(or so my experience has led me to believe).

Are deers and bears really a problem or a solution waiting to be explored?

:p

welcome to permies Bryan



 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Landon Sunrich wrote:I don't know that Corn and Ceder are two plants I have ever though of growing near each other...


welcome to permies Bryan





Hot damn! you've been here longer than I. Forgive my faux pas!
 
Bryan Isaac
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Thanks for the replies, I have thought about swales but the area we are looking at for the forest garden is at the base of a steeper slope and will get plenty of water. We already have raspberries and some type of blackberry, any ideas for fruit or nut trees which thrive on acid soils or any ideas on amending the soils ?
 
Sean Banks
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forgot to mention chestnuts....they love acidic soil.....I would grow the American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)...in their native range they are ecologically extinct because of chestnut blight...however in the pacific northwest the blight has a hard time surviving which means you can grow them...they produce large crops of sweet nuts and the wood is valuable since it is lightweight yet strong and rot resistant. They can grow very large; 100' tall and 8' diameter. One tree in North Carolina a century ago was measured to be 17' diameter.....thats about as large as some redwoods.

 
Wi Tim
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Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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Bryan, I am also surrounded by the fir and pine forest, and my gardening spot apparently used to be evergreen forest not so long ago. But the soil here is within the "perfect" range. Don't assume, make a soil ph test.

Deer is the largest problem for me. I thought I was smart planting clover next to the raspberries to fix nitrogen, until deer ate most of the clover and most of the raspberries. I planted garlic in between of the strawberries - and they ate the strawberries anyway. I thought deer did not like currents, until they ate all the leaves on a couple of bushes. So far, large rhubarb plants are ok, but the smaller ones cannot stand the deer pressure. I really cannot imagine anything other than 8+ft fence can stop these monsters. Any ideas, anyone?
 
mike mclellan
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Location: Helena, MT zone 4
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Wi,
Try looking at the design of a deer fence shown in the August, 2011 edition of Permaculture Activist magazine entitled "A Better Deer Fence" found on page 31. I tried it this past summer and so far, so good. I don't have any where near the deer pressure the author describes in her northern Montana country. See if that fits with your site. Good luck.
 
David Hartley
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Alfalfa will be a no-go in acidic soil... However Subterranean clover and buckwheat are excellent annuals that will build your soil and readily seed if allowed.
 
Wi Tim
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Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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mike mclellan wrote:Wi,
Try looking at the design of a deer fence shown in the August, 2011 edition of Permaculture Activist magazine entitled "A Better Deer Fence" found on page 31. I tried it this past summer and so far, so good. I don't have any where near the deer pressure the author describes in her northern Montana country. See if that fits with your site. Good luck.


Thank you, Mike! I managed to find this article online. Having a 4' fence plus two strands of wire running parallel to the top of fence on the inside is way less expensive than 8' fence, and is much easier to install. The moose will probably not even notice it and go straight through... but moose do not come here every day, only a few times a year.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Wi Tim wrote: Deer pressure. I really cannot imagine anything other than 8+ft fence can stop these monsters. Any ideas, anyone?


A hunting permit. In the fall (like now) when these 'monsters' are really wanting to eat the last of your tasty bits before the winter frieze, kill one. Skin it and clean it next to whatever it was eating. You're plants will love drinking the blood rain mix. Through the bones out around trouble spots too.

Repeat as necessary for a year or two. Deer mostly see humans as non-threatening. Make them realize they are fucking with an apex predator and they'll get the picture and steer clear. At the vary least they will be much more cautious and put far less pressure on your crops. Of course if you are keeping livestock, especially fowl you may end up drawing in other nuances like racoons - especially with all the blood.

I just cant imagine spending money on 20 acres of fencing to keep a native natural high quality lean protein OUT of my food forest when it want to be there for free.
 
Wi Tim
Posts: 62
Location: North Idaho, zone 5a
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Landon Sunrich wrote:
Wi Tim wrote: Deer pressure. I really cannot imagine anything other than 8+ft fence can stop these monsters. Any ideas, anyone?


A hunting permit. In the fall (like now) when these 'monsters' are really wanting to eat the last of your tasty bits before the winter frieze, kill one. Skin it and clean it next to whatever it was eating. You're plants will love drinking the blood rain mix. Through the bones out around trouble spots too.

Repeat as necessary for a year or two. Deer mostly see humans as non-threatening. Make them realize they are fucking with an apex predator and they'll get the picture and steer clear. At the vary least they will be much more cautious and put far less pressure on your crops. Of course if you are keeping livestock, especially fowl you may end up drawing in other nuances like racoons - especially with all the blood.

I just cant imagine spending money on 20 acres of fencing to keep a native natural high quality lean protein OUT of my food forest when it want to be there for free.


Husband got one deer from our bathroom window last year, but it was not nearly enough to affect the overall population. He should get another one this year, but I do not have any hopes that it will reduce the deer pressure.

Regarding the blood and bones - I have 2 toddlers and 1 dog that would have to be kept away. And fear of racoons and bears stops me as well.

It's nice to have wildlife around, isn't it?
 
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