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New house, Food Forest plan  RSS feed

 
                      
Posts: 25
Location: Sherbrooke, QC
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I am in Building a House in Sherbrooke, QC Canada this comming March, and have ordered the trees seen in my attachment from a local organic dealer. I am planning on planting comfrey as a cover plant, and will add Hardy Kiwi, Grapes, Currents, Gooseberries, Honeyberrys (haskap) in the comming years. Any suggestions on other plants that would be useful in this design, both for sun and shade. - oh, South facing side has the row of apples and pears - just so you understand the impact. I am in a zone 4 area, so any perennial vegatables you suggest could also be considered. I want to create a productive, low maintenance food forest.

Thanks!
 
                      
Posts: 25
Location: Sherbrooke, QC
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No comments?

Someone want to help out a Canadian Newbie?
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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Welcome Jiggy,

Glad to see another Canadian on here.

Here is an extensive database of plants that are either native or naturalized in Canada. There is a 'browse' search and an 'advanced' search option on the top right side of the page in a little box. In the advanced search you can really get technical with what you want (plant size, ecozone, edible/medicinal, soil req, juglone tolerant etc.)

http://nativeplants.evergreen.ca/


Here is a nursery in Quebec that you may want to look into. They have cold hardy fruit and nut trees mostly but carry a wide assortment of woody edibles

http://www.greenbarnnursery.ca/

 
                      
Posts: 25
Location: Sherbrooke, QC
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Great! - Fantastic resource thank you.
I actually ordered all 22 of the trees I am planting this spring from the Green Barn. Great bunch of people.

Where you from?
 
Travis Philp
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Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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Some questions for you:

What is your soil type?

How high is the groundwater level ?

What is the topography like?

What is your ecozone/ecoregion?

Do you want to incorporate nutrient accumulators other than comfrey (eg. nitrogen fixing trees, bushes, groundcovers)?

 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I'm living just about smack in the middle between a few towns in central Ontario:  Lindsay, Peterborough, Bobcaygeon, and Omemee.

So would you recommend Greenbarn? In a few years we'd like to create several acres of forest garden type orchards and we're considering them as our main source for fruit trees.
 
                      
Posts: 25
Location: Sherbrooke, QC
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Next year I plan to add Seaberry, also a nitrogen fixer, Elderberry to stabilize a ditch I have on the edge of the property. I only have ¼ acre, so I want to incorporate as many edibles as possible, but I also understand that the maintenance issues are kept in check by diversity and campion planting... I think the biggest issue is compatible ground covers as a living mulch. I like the comfrey because of the fertilization aspects. I have been trying to find others.. I will be planting mint, ostrich fern, any other perennials, but as I am new, and there are not alot of local resources, I am searching a lot!

Topo is flat,  very slightly slopped to the North. I have a Ditch running from West to east to divert excess water. It was mostly a pasture when I bought it with a few willows growing here and there. I have not yet tested the soil, but from the excess dirt removed when the ditch was dug, the soil seams faily light and brown. Doesn't seem to be too much clay - so that should be a good start.
 
                      
Posts: 25
Location: Sherbrooke, QC
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Regarding your question about the greenbarn, I found their prices a little higher than local nurseries, but I really think that the organic, non GMO aspect of the greenbarn appealing. Also, Ken Taylor, who started it was a prof at McGill, and has been doing this for 30years...

Steve, his son, who I delt with is a great guy. I sent him my plan, and we went over it for about 45mins, discussion what trees would work and where.

I havent planted the trees yet - as they will come in in May, so right now I am basing everything on their experience...

But if it grows in Montreal - thats 1.5 hours from me - should grow here!
 
Travis Philp
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Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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For ground covers:

I looked up groundcovers native to the east and this is the list:
http://nativeplants.evergreen.ca/search/search-results.php?mode=guided&province=QC&type=Ground%20Cover

I'm reluctant to recommend anything else due to you being in zone 4.

but look into wild ginger, coltsfoot, creeping thyme, and purslane off the top of my head
 
                      
Posts: 25
Location: Sherbrooke, QC
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Creeping thyme is beautiful! Can it be used the same as regular Thyme? I know that the wild ginger has shown to have negative effects on the liver, and generally better to stay way from eating... - - Not that I plan on planting edibles only. But nice to know what can be used.

Also a question regarding design, would there be a benifit to raising the whole planting area?, I could do it as a raised bed, allowing a clean seperation from the kids recreational area (lawn) from the garden. In my mide it would also provide better drainage, and might allow better layering of herbs, plants (like comphrey), shrubs and trees.... - It might help to move irragation aswell. I plan to have a water storage tank for rook run off....

Any thoughts?
 
Travis Philp
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Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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JIGGY wrote:
Creeping thyme is beautiful! Can it be used the same as regular Thyme? I know that the wild ginger has shown to have negative effects on the liver, and generally better to stay way from eating... - - Not that I plan on planting edibles only. But nice to know what can be used.


As far  as I know creeping thyme can be used the same, though I assume the flavour will differ at least slightly from usual thyme and I could see it being less potent. This is only guessing though.

As for ginger, I've heard both sides of the arguement. Similarily with comfrey; I've heard it is toxic to the liver, but I've also heard it has great benefits as well as B12 and is only toxic in large amounts. I wonder if this is a similar story to ginger. I mean, tomatoes, lettuce, and other veggies sold in the grocery store are toxic to some degree...

JIGGY wrote:
Also a question regarding design, would there be a benifit to raising the whole planting area?, I could do it as a raised bed, allowing a clean seperation from the kids recreational area (lawn) from the garden. In my mide it would also provide better drainage, and might allow better layering of herbs, plants (like comphrey), shrubs and trees.... - It might help to move irragation aswell. I plan to have a water storage tank for rook run off....


I would suggest raised beds for the reasons you suggest as well as better heat retention making for a slightly extended season. I think we northern gardeners need to take advantage of every possible season extension that we can. If you can, try to place cold-sensetive plants as close to your house or shed as possible, as buildings store and release heat and reflect or absorb sunlight which are both beneficial.

 
                    
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Giant soloman's seal grows anywhere from full sun to full shade, hardy to zone 4, and has a taller (3-4-5' arching shape that works well for standing behind or next to shorter friends. It also looks nice, kind of jurassic:

http://www.npsnj.org/polygonatum_canaliculatum.htm

Plants for a future (pfaf.org - extensive resource for all kinds of plants) gives this edible description: Young shoots - cooked. Boiled and used as an asparagus substitute, they make an excellent vegetable[2, 4, 115] and are widely used in Turkey[244].  The roots are also edible, starchy, but must be soaked before cooking to remove bitterness, and because of this it's not the best candidate for a tuber crop, in my opinion. 

copied most of this from another thread, but it seemed like a plant you'd know about or like to know about!
 
Paul Cereghino
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Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I have been growing French sorrel (Rumex acetosa (not acetosella)) for mulch, as they are vigorous, tap rooted, and reported nutrient accumulators.  I am looking for leftover seed of the wild docks (R. crispus, R. obtusa locally) for similar purposes and the medicinal side benefit.

For ideas... "Old-time herbs for Northern Gardener's" is a neat book... Kamm M.W. (1938(1971))
 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
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Hello Northern neighbors! 

I am also in zone 5 so whated to say hey.  I plan lots of asparagus as it likes to grow for me and I like to eat it.  As far as I know it is a good compaion for most things, though some are not so good back.

I grow it from seed.
 
                      
Posts: 25
Location: Sherbrooke, QC
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Whoa, The Giant soloman's seal  is beautiful, I have never heard of it (Im kind of new to permaculture....

Do you know if it is concidered a nitrogen fixer?

As for asparagus, I think it is only an annual in Zone 4 - our winters can be harsh here in Quebec.. But it can still work..
 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
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I believe Asparagus is hardy to zone 4. 

It will be several years from seed to table, but then it will be there to greet us every season for as long as we live together.
 
                      
Posts: 25
Location: Sherbrooke, QC
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Great thoughts everyone...

What else can go around the fruit, nut and, shrubs that can serve as "chop and drop" nitrogen fixers discribed in Establishing a Food Forest.... - man I wish I lived in Austrialia, their growing conditions differ just a bit than my Z4 cold winters
 
                      
Posts: 25
Location: Sherbrooke, QC
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Apprently clover is also a very good nitrogen fixing-green manure ground cover... True or un-true?
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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yep, many people consider clover to be the most effective nitrogen fixing ground cover. It's also edible and can be used to make tea
 
                    
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Clover itself doesn't fix nitrogen, it provides a home for specific microbes that do the job.  If you're planting a clover variety that doesn't naturally grow in your area you'll probably need to seed some inoculating material at the same time.  You can buy pre-inoculated clover, each seed has been coated in some stuff, but it's more expensive per pound than the "raw" seed.  Most companies that sell clover seed also sell inoculate for them, or should.  (red flag if they say nothing about it)

Some trees do it differently, I don't understand it thoroughly but they're capable of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere. 

Man, yeah, zone 4 is tough!  I keep thinking I have ideas but then I look it up and it's like, nope, zone 5 or 6.    Keep looking! 

I don't think Soloman's seal fixes nitrogen. 
 
Travis Philp
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Two plants you may want to consider for your herbaceous layer...

lupin lupinus polyphyllus - a quebec native perennial groundcover plant that fixes atmospheric nitrogen with the aid of microbes as marina said about the clover. It's not really an edible (plants for a future says you can eat the roots but they rate the taste as 1 of 5. 

Perennial Kale Brassica oleraceaThis one isn't a nitrogen fixer but it is a cold hardy perennial leaf crop.

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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marina wrote:Some trees do it differently, I don't understand it thoroughly but they're capable of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere.


As I understand it, plants regarded as nitrogen-fixing generally enlist the aid of some microorganism or other for that purpose.

Alder trees, for example, produce root nodules, but the bacteria they host are entirely unrelated to those that associate with pea-family plants, and the nodules themselves are fist-sized instead of poppyseed-sized.

Lichen are nitrogen-fixing as well, but they aren't plants...each variety of lichen is made up of more than one, entirely unrelated species, as a matter of fact: single-cell algae living with multi-celled fungi. Since we talk about each variety of lichen as a single entity, I think it makes sense to talk about clover and their associated bacteria in a similar way.
 
Travis Philp
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I can't believe I forgot about strawberries and rhubarb until now!

rhubarb is pretty cold and shade tolerant, and strawberries are as well. You can get everbearing types of strawberry that fruit from spring all the way into the fall.

wild leeks aka ramps are another cold hardy native plant to look into. They grow under dense deciduous canopies, and emerge in the spring- taking advantage of the light exposure before tree leaves sprout. They go dormant underground during the rest of the year.

ostrich fern aka fiddlehead is a similar story to wild leek.
 
                    
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the nodules themselves are fist-sized


That's COOL!  And SHOCKING!  And really COOL!  We have lots of fairly mature (I think western red) alders in a wet area on the land.  Beautiful trees! 

I was pointing out the inoculation because Jiggy seems new this, and I've heard there's a chance that the specific microbe with the relationship to that variety of clover might not be in the area if you sow raw seed without inoculation.  So then your clover wouldn't fix nitrogen?  I somehow think the chances of that are pretty low...mostly because of my faith in mother nature's ability to fill niches....but I don't know one way or the other for sure. 

Ok but, I've heard about plants that fix nitrogen without nodes.  The vetch in our fields, for instance, has thick fiborous roots and I've never seen anything like a node (the ones I've been shown to look for and seen on other plants, anyway) on them.  They're supposed to fix nitrogen?

Otherwise, I see your point about it being the same living entity.  I've read about the possible importance of rain drops leaching nutrients from lichen and providing nutrients for the trees.  The same sort of relationship but above ground.  Lichen is one of the more beautiful things in the forest, now that I'm imagining it in all its sometimes weird variations.  Is there an edible lichen thread? I know there are a few... I have pictures of one somewhere.
 
                      
Posts: 25
Location: Sherbrooke, QC
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Thanks all I have really stumbled apon a wealth of knowledge. Beween everything named here, and the other fruit nut and shrubs I have already planned, i dont know if I'll have Room for much else. (Once I through in the chickens and annual vegetable garden)

Cant wait. 6 weeks till construction starts. I'll be sure to update with photos so everyone can see where there 2 cents ends up!

Best to all!
 
Jennifer Smith
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Location: Zone 5
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JIGGY wrote:
Beween everything named here, and the other fruit nut and shrubs I have already planned, i dont know if I'll have Room for much else. (Once I through in the chickens and annual vegetable garden)


What else do you have planned?  please share
 
                      
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Location: Sherbrooke, QC
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Well, here is the plan again. So far here is what I have for the Food Forest Area, (perimeter of the property)

Ground Cover:
Dwarf White Clover (kept short on "lawn area" longer under tree canopy)
Strawberries

Plant layer
Cumphrey
Solomans seal
rubarb
sorrel
mint

Shrubs:
Seaberry
currents
gooseberries
hazelnut (although they could be considered a small tree)
Chums (cross between cherry and plum

Tree
Pear
Asian Pear
Plum
Cherry
Heartnut
Elderberry
Mulberry

Vines
Grape - grown the traditional vinyard way
kiwi - on arbors and fencing


I will have a movable chicken coop with fencing to keep them in specific areas. I plan on building 4x8 interconnecting fence pannels, with "bird netting" to keep them in. This will allow them to eat the spoiled mulberrys and other tid bits I cant get and fertalize the soil. I will also have a water retenion tank. My municipal zoning laws limit how Permie I can go. But with proper design I think I can make a very efficient project that may help to get others on board!

Zone 4 is limiting as mentionned and agreed upon, but it is clear that with help from sites like this, and proper planning, a really great project can come together. So far this is only the theory - realy work and testing starts in about 6-8 weeks!

Questions/comments
 
Jennifer Smith
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Location: Zone 5
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I plan amaranth and broomcorn for chicken grains.  I am not sure how it will go and if they will self harvest.

oh, and sunflowers.  I may try sesame seeds or some other thing later as I can get seed.
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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looks like a good plan. A couple that I forgot to mention which are hardy in quebec according to the evergreen database. They can be grown separate but also as companions, with the groundnut vining up the jerusalem artichoke, taking up about the same amount of space as if you only grew artichoke. The groundnut could also grow up your fruit trees I imagine. You could feed the artichoke flower heads to your chickens too. Oh, and sorry to make this thread so wide...I don't know why it expands the margins like that and doesn't just crop it to the next line...

groundnut (apios americana) - is a vine that fixes nitrogen with edible tubers and small edible pea/bean-like pods
http://nativeplants.evergreen.ca/search/view-plant.php?ID=00076&query=%20AND%20common_name%20LIKE%20%27%24groundnut%24%27%20:0

jerusalem artichoke- grows like a sunflower, but with edible tubers that are one of the tastiest canadian native vegetables. The link I have says its grown as an annual in your zone but given enough frost protection before winter I think it'd come through as a perennial. Either way its well worth growing
http://nativeplants.evergreen.ca/search/view-plant.php?ID=00076&query=%20AND%20common_name%20LIKE%20%27%24groundnut%24%27%20%20AND%20%28%20province%20LIKE%20%27%24QC%24%27%20%29%20:0


 
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