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This Is What Can Be Done In 3 Years

 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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Just sorting through some old pictures trying to replace my desktop background and came across these two pictures. One is from 3 years ago and the other is from this summer.
Sometimes it's hard to remember how things used to look and it can make you feel like progress isn't going fast enough. Then you stumble on these and realize that you've come a lot further than you thought.

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Note the abundance of mono crop grass.
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after swales and polyculture and forest trees were added
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Thanks Craig - encouraging pictures How is your land yielding after three years? The odd vegetable for the table or is it contributing substantially to your nutrition?
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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The garden keeps me in fresh veggies throughout the growing season. There are some perennial things that are already producing for me, like sunchokes and some berry bushes. This year I raised two pigs and roughly fifty chickens for meat. I have a further 60 chickens that ought to be laying some eggs before too long. It's been a long moult this year. I also started a rabbit program just a few months ago as I've decided I'm not a fan of raising chix for meat.
In about five years I expect that particular area in the photos to be full of blueberry, strawberry, apple, cherry, plum, serviceberry, juneberry, cranberry, elderberry, siberian pea shrub, mulberry, sunchokes, hazelnuts, beech, maple, ash, oak blah blah blah. Oh... and chestnuts. and staghorn sumac. At least that's what I planted this year. With any luck most of that will come back up next year.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1556
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Neat - I'm interested in the choice of staghorn sumac. We have that here, however it is perpetually trying to escape it's area and, without defending it, it would spread at least 3m per year by runners. What are you hoping for from it?
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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The sumac tends to grow near the roadsides around here, so when they showed up in just the right spot last year, I just left them there. They have edible fruits that have a lot of vitamin C and a flavor similar to pink lemonade. At least that what I've read. They will act as a windbreak and a little bit of a privacy hedge from the road as well. I'm sure it will attract some insects as well.

That roadside hedge has cherry, apple, crab apple, ash, autumn olive, grape, rose, blueberry, sumac, hawthorn and oak.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Craig. You have shown that the quote in your signature applies to gardening and not just to social evolution as I believe Gandhi would have used it. It looks like you packed up and moved to a much nicer place. You've totally changed the look of your place and fed the family in the process.

The Quote
"You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”

-Gandhi
 
David Goodman
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Fantastic work, Craig. How very exciting.

I've also let sumacs grow. Once I started getting rid of grass and transforming the yard into a food forest, they started showing up. I've also had bay trees, wild plums, black cherries and assorted wildflowers wander in. I love it!
 
Kirk Hockin
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Location: Merville, BC
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Craig,

Looks great! Very inspiring!

I was wondering if you'd estimate for me the area of land in the photo. Is this all the land your cultivating? Where did the pigs live? Did the free range on pasture? Maybe you've already covered this, and just want to link me to the info.

I'm curious how your space compares to our, currently in the planning stage, property.

Thanks!
 
Wenona Boucher
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Location: Massachusetts
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Please, please, please, tell me where I should get all these types of plants especially since they say not to use the usual kinds of apple trees, etc. Where can we get some of the ones that permaculture people are breeding up from seedlings?
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Wenona Boucher wrote:Please, please, please, tell me where I should get all these types of plants especially since they say not to use the usual kinds of apple trees, etc. Where can we get some of the ones that permaculture people are breeding up from seedlings?


Welcome to permies Wenona,

In the apple arena I have wild saplings that just came up from the birds and deer distributing seeds. I also have some cultivated and grafted varieties that were planted before I moved here plus a few that I've planted over the last few years. I also have saved seeds from the apples we eat and then stratify and plant out in the spring. All of them seem to be doing well, though I do have to keep a closer eye on the trees that I bought as they are more susceptible to bugs being that they only have one trunk. Some of my hardiest trees so far have about 4 trunks with many little sprouts for the mice to chew. So... no pruning from here out.



Don't get too caught up in specifics, just plant some things that will work in your area and try to diversify. There are tons of apple varieties and many uses for them. try everything. It can't hurt
 
Amedean Messan
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Location: Melbourne FL, USA - Pine and Palmetto Flatland, Sandy and Acidic
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Thanks for sharing that.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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Kirk Hockin wrote:Craig,

Looks great! Very inspiring!

I was wondering if you'd estimate for me the area of land in the photo. Is this all the land your cultivating? Where did the pigs live? Did the free range on pasture? Maybe you've already covered this, and just want to link me to the info.

I'm curious how your space compares to our, currently in the planning stage, property.

Thanks!


The land area pictured is about two hundred feet long by about sixty feet wide (ish). It's not the only cultivated land we have. This particular area is used for annual veggies, and the nursery for our food forest trees. Many of the species in that area will be used for cuttings and grafting so that I can expand the food forest as the space becomes available. I also cultivated a smaller area (about 100x40 ft) for winter crops and forage stuff for the animals. Mostly pumpkins, sunflower, mangles clover and greens. The pigs and chickens rotational grazed about two acres of rough field and after two passes, have turned it into a pretty respectable "field" which I'll frost-seed in the spring. That area will be for next year's winter forages, while I move pigs, chickens and geese to a new section of rough pasture to clear it.

I started another thread here that might be more informative. 7 acres in Maine
I might be starting a serious search for a partner (business partner) next spring as I'm reaching the limits of my time and energy so that thread might be active again soon.


 
Wenona Boucher
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Location: Massachusetts
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I would love to hear what varieties, of fruit trees especially, that people have planted that are good at taking care of themselves.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
Posts: 1239
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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Wenona Boucher wrote:I would love to hear what varieties, of fruit trees especially, that people have planted that are good at taking care of themselves.


A lot of that is going to depend on where you live and what your particular growing conditions are. You can edit your profile to show that information, which will make answering a lot of you specific questions easier.

Because my system is still so young, I can't say for sure what is truly going to stand the test of time. Yet
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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Of all the trees and things I planted last year, the only thing that didn't make it through this cruel winter was a sweet cherry tree. It wasn't looking good in the fall so I'm not surprised that it didn't make it. Other than that,

here's the list of what I planted

strawberry (sparkle)

Comfrey

Apples: Black Oxford, Frostbite, Golden Russet, Honeycrisp, Wealthy, Winekist

Cherry: English Morello, Montmorency Pie

Raspberry: Jaclyn, Polana, Jewel Black

Grapes: Bluebell

Juneberry: Regent

Allegheny Serviceberry

Siberian Peashrub

American Hazelnut

Black Walnut

Red Mulberry

Niobe Weeping Willow

Goodbarn Elderberry

York Elderberry

Wentworth Highbush Cranberry

Blueberry: Blueray, Earliblue, Elliot, Jersey, Northland

Crimson Passion Sour Cherry

Chestnut : Some bought, some wild harvested

Oak: Wild harvested

Beaked Hazelnuts: Wild harvested

Sunchokes

 
Andrew Ray
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What does "frost seed" mean?
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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Andrew Ray wrote:What does "frost seed" mean?


When the ground freezes and thaws, it opens up little cracks in the soil. This is an ideal time to broadcast seeds that germinate in spring time. It's basically like micro-plowing in that the weather breaks and softens the ground in order to make seed germination easier.


 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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Here is a shot from just a slightly different angle and five years later than the first one in this thread.  I'd say it's a much better look.  Fruit and nuts are beginning to bear and many other things have really taken off.  The only casualties so far have been one "pie" cherry tree and a walnut tree that failed to leaf out this year.  Other than that... It's turning out to be quite a nice experiment.  I'm aslo able to use the spaces between trees and bushes to grow many annual crops.  I'm so glad I took on this project. 
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It's a baby food forest!
 
Clive Endels
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Wow, nice job. Stunning
 
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