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Food hedges?

 
Jeff Marchand
Posts: 34
Location: Eastern Ontario
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So I have started a long term project of laying exiting fencerows on my property and to turn them into hedgerows. I really like hedgerows. Your basic hedgerow to keep my animals where I want them to be, costs only labour (have you seen how much pagewire is selling for lately?) to build and maintain, will provide enough branchwood to keep my future RMH going through the winter just from the necessary maintenance trimmings, adds nitrogen to the soils as I will be using alot of Black and Honey Locusts, and provides habitat for criters.

Ive been reading up on food forests and am intrigued but then I thought wow, why could nt I make my hedges into food hedges? As it is I had already been planning on allowing a large shade tree every 50-75 feet especially some of the wild apples trees that are already there , I could put some wild choke cherries (made some delicous jelly from them last year), plant some hardy pears, crabapples, and roses for rosehips. All these are great polen sources for bees of course.

I also want to plants some rows with hazelnuts and widely spaced black walnuts. I believe hazelnuts are not bothered by black walnuts. Does anyone have any other suggestions about what kind of shrubs or trees would take well to coppicing and would provide food as hazlnuts would. How about trees? Any that I missed? Some possible candidates would be shagbark hickory and oaks. But they take so LOOONG to bear fruit!
 
Jeremy Hutchins
Posts: 27
Location: Northern Virginia (zone 6b/7a)
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How tall do you want your hedges to be and what animals are you trying to contain? I'd go for a nice big bramble of berry bushes (raspberry, blackberry), but depending on the critters you want to keep in, that might not be useful. Plenty of other low-lying stuff out there as well - currants, elderberry. This is all smaller stuff, though.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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For fuel wood - it is fairly common to see large ash trees in the UK which have been repeatedly pollarded at about 8ft. The limbs are used for firewood, the leafy thinner branches can be used as goat fodder.

To make a hedge stockproof take some careful work - livestock are adept at finding weaknesses and busting through. Simply letting it grow will leave lots of gaps through at ground level as well as thin patches. To make it fully stock proof you will need to "lay" the hedge. basically part cut through stems, bend them down and weave them into a sturdy fence. The base of each plant sends up new growth, while the old damaged wood will usually live for a few more year providing the stock proof part.

They are typically laid every 7 years or so (longer and they become too heavy to work with just hand tools). Cutting hedges encourages vigorous growth and multiple stems which is what you want in this case, so around 4 years after first planting, once the roots are established, I'd consider coppicing or laying it. You won't have enough mass there to make it properly stock proof but you'll end up with a denser and more vigorous hedge.

Species:
cobnut - this is a hazel variety that makes bigger, tastier nuts. A little slower growing than the wild varieties.
roses - roses take really well from hardwood cuttings taken at this time of year. Many of the ornamental varieties also have larger rosehips than the wild, and make sturdier limbs that would go well in a laid hedge.
blackberry - definitely go for these. Cultivated varieties that are known to fruit well are your friend here. There is a lot of variation in the wild plants - some will just never give you large juicy fruit.
other berry bushes - redcurrant, blackcurrant etc...
Thorny stuff - these will provide the main structure and make it stockproof. Blackthorn and hawthorn are traditional in the UK. Blackthorn gives you sloes - sloe gin is lovely, a read winter treat

If you want other fruit trees - apples and the like they are unlikely to grow as quickly as your main hedge plants so I'd think about using them as standards.

When I spent some time hedge laying it was quite noticable that where standards had grown up in the row the plants in the shade were much less vigorous, had fewer stems and as a result it was a lot harder to lay properly and make stock proof. My thoughts were that your standards will likely need some management so as not to suppress the hedge too much (occassional thinning or pollarding - gives your firewood anyway).

Sourcing plants
All of these are supposed to take well from hardwood cuttings - you can go out with a pair of secateurs and cut enough for a few 1000 plants in an afternoon. You may have a range of different plants avaiable in your location (locust is not native here for example), but that is what I would be considering.

Mike
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Mentioned in the other post - elder!

Elder flower wine/champagne/cordial are all firm favourites to make in summer.
Elder berry - we made batches of juice which we bottled one autumn. It was great added to apple crumbles and pies. The seeds are supposed to be mildly toxic.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Great thread - thanks for starting it, Jeff.

Michael - thanks for your insight into hedgerows and stockproofing them - always wondered how that was done. One of my most favorite things (because I'm an incurable romantic) are the hedges all across the English countryside.

I am endeavoring to do something similar here in the urban desert (very different application, obviously). My hedgerows will primarily serve as wildlife habitat/nectary, solar baffle screen (to keep the intense desert sun from heating up the thermal mass of my house) with some people food. Pomegranates work well here - I am limited by access to water and extreme high temps.
 
Jeff Marchand
Posts: 34
Location: Eastern Ontario
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Jeremy, I hope to be able to contain cattle and sheep at first and after a couple of trimming cycles and the hedges have become more stockproof, goats and pigs. I want the hedges to be fairly tall to keep the goats in, so I am aiming for 5 1/2 feet. Bramble fruit wont do as an edge to my food hedge at least on the stock side. I have cows and horses now behind electric wire and they really cleaned up a wild blackberry bush.

Mike, thanks for the first hand input. Especially about hardwood cuttings and brambles. I have collected a couple of hundred hawthorne seeds not knowing I could propagate the plant by cuttings. Was also going to try to plant black locust seeds. Cuttings would be much easier. What do you recommend. sticking the cuttings in the ground in the spring or trying to root them indoors with willow water? Other species I was going to use are buckthorn and prickly ash. None of these provide food for me but will be excellent for keeping stock in.

What you say about needing to trim back the standards makes sense to me, if they get too big they will shade out the hedge plants. Fruit trees usually need to be kept pruned to maximize their production so all the more reason to use fruit trees, probably semi-dwarf varieties , as standards.

How are brambles used in the UK in hedges? I cant see how they would be layed as they are so thin and my cows seem to like eating their leaves. Are they just planted/ allowed to grow on the non-stock side of the hedge?

 
John Polk
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so all the more reason to use fruit trees, probably semi-dwarf varieties , as standards.


I would be cautious about picking dwarf/semi-dwarf trees for northern climates.
St Lawrence Nursery in USDA zone 3 does not/will not offer any trees on dwarf stock, as they feel that dwarf stock is less vigorous, hence its smaller stature. I have heard other orchardists claim that zone 6 is about the coldest limit where dwarf stock can be relied upon.

While many have succeeded, it is certainly worth considering, depending on your climate.





 
Jeremy Hutchins
Posts: 27
Location: Northern Virginia (zone 6b/7a)
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My first inclanation when you mentioned a living hedge was Osage Orange, because of its long established usage for hedges (it's other name is Hedgeapple) but I had always heard that is inedible. That said, I found this http://www.eattheweeds.com/maclura-pomifera-the-edible-inedible-2/ which seems to indicate that it is not actually toxic, and in fact the seeds are edible. It's probably not exactly what you were hoping for on the "edible" end of the scale, but it would make a terrific animal proof hedge and you could certainly inter-plant with some of the other edibles. In fact, it might help keep the livestock from destroying some of the other less robust elements of your hedge. Found another article here that shows how to plant for a livestock proof Osage Orange hedge. http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/living-fences-zmaz10onzraw.aspx#axzz2lWFVdJ55.
 
Jeff Marchand
Posts: 34
Location: Eastern Ontario
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Interesting about the dwarf/ semi-dwarf being less hardy. I did not realise that.

I think I am too far north for Osage Orange. I have heard about it and it sounds like a wonderful hedge species, but as John points out I need trees that can reliably survive our Canadian winters.

After my original post one plant I felt a bit foolish because I remembered an amazing nursery 1 hour's drive from me! http://www.greenbarnnursery.ca/SearchResults.asp?Cat=1819. They even have a section of their website dedicated to permaculture plants! I need to get at least 2 of each of those plants to grow and propagate. I actually went there this spring for some grapes and an apple tree. O ne thing that impressed me is that they say they select for hardiness. They grow varieties that can be ignored and that will still do well. If they find that variety is either not hardy or not disease reistant they dont grow them.

Other non-'permaculture' species that they sell that really interest me are pawpaws, medlars, roselow crabapples, seaberries, aronia, ..... wow their choices are endless. I probably can only affor to buy 2 of 3 types each year.

If you could just pick 3 which would you choose?


 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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In answer to the question on brambles - they will not make a hedge stockproof, but they thrive in hedgerow conditions and can fruit heavily. Wild varieties are selfseeded in every hedgerow around here. The tangle can make a dense mess for larger animals but smaller stock will have no problem forcing a tunnel through, especially if you have wildlife opening up routes.

The part of the hedge that makes it properly stockproof is the horizontally laid woody material for around 1"+ diameter.



Mike
 
John Polk
master steward
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an amazing nursery 1 hour's drive from me!


That, to me is very important for trees/shrubs, and other permanent plantings.
Seeds for annuals are not as critical, but permanent plantings from local sources can make a huge difference.
Not only are they accustomed to your weather, but also the native pests and diseases, plus soils.

I think this becomes much more important if one lives in any extreme location.
Cold, bitter winters, or hot/humid summers require different genetics from your planting stocks.
Same goes for soils. If you live with hard, sticky clay, it makes no sense buying from a nursery in sandy soils.

Locally grown nursery stock will almost always outperform stock flown in from thousands of miles away.
Plus, you will have somebody to go talk with if you encounter a problem down the road.
The nurseryman should be glad to help a valued customer. That could be priceless.

 
S Bengi
Posts: 1355
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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You do not want to have a hedgerow that is over 10ft high.
If you take a look at a 40ft tree you will see the at bottom 10ft is devoid of any vegetation, the next 10ft has huge holes that a cow could fit thru.
So you really want a hedgerow that has dwarf 10ft trees, lots of brambles like blackberry, grape vine etc. So think 10ft vs 50ft.

Now if you just want visual dividers, then go for whatever looks nice to you.
 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 116
Location: Hamilton, MT
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We r proceeding on our 1500' fedge in sw MT. It is planned to be 8'wide and 5' tall. In the middle we r using thorny tangles of Rogusa Rose, Hawthorns, Osage Orange, locust, other. On the outer edge, we r planting wildlife plants so to encourage grazing of elk / deer so that they don't penetrate the hedge and enter our zone 1-2. The outer edge is service berry, elder berry, choke cherry, silver buffalo berry, other. Our interior edge is fruiting brambles and mixed seasonal pollinators for our bees yard.
We r working with state nursery for the wildlife fodder element, Lawyers nursery out of MT for zone appropriate options and our own greenhouse to start others.
Check out my photos on Facebook. We trenched the entire run and filled in as a Hugel bed element to supplement our 12" of annual rainfall.
Good luck to all and thanks for the input!
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1106
Location: northern northern california
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i am also really into this idea and have made some fedges too =)

it does take a lot of time, and a lot of maintenance, for sure.

i havent been working on making a proper hedge like that pictured above, more of a living fence/living wall of plants/trees/bushes/brambles ...though i think those proper hedges are very cool.

i've also not been thinking too much about animals, except to hopefully be a distraction and prevent wild animal getting in....like hopefully they would approach the outside of the fedge and be happy enough with what was there... to not need to go in futher? thats one of the thoughts anyway...the wild animals could enjoy the outside of the fedge and that there could be so much abundance.... where the inside and gardens in the middle might be better protected .

i think it would be cool to do a whole patio using this kind of method as walls/privacy screen. since i just moved i am starting a new small fedge, using a lot of plum trees and cuttings of plums.

some thoughts on types of plants and trees i have been thinking about and working with
(sorry some of these wouldnt work in a cold climate, i live in a very warm place)

hazelnut
willow
fig, any kind of ficus
plum
^^^those are all really easy to layer and propagate with cuttings
roses
elderberry
thimbleberry
kiwi
grape
guava
berries of all flavors, even the invasive Himalayan blackberries
fuschia
passionflower
mugwort
bamboo

theres more but thats enough suggestions...
putting in the lower stuff on the edges can be just about anything you want to grow...
 
Aljaz Plankl
Posts: 384
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Jeff, go for medlar for sure, it's fast growing, fruits in abundance, and it's not to big, it grows more or less as a shruby tree.
After it grows a bit, you can take scions off of it and you can gratf it on hawthorn.
 
Russell Olson
Posts: 181
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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What kind of protection is needed for a young hedge/fedge?
It would work to do it in sections maybe 20' with a double barrier of 4' galvanized fence 2.5 ft in between(50 ft roll). my experience is young plants, even thorny ones will get browsed by deer. Are there some good thorny nurse plants that deer won't touch before planting some of the nicer fruits/nuts?
 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 116
Location: Hamilton, MT
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bee chicken forest garden
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We install our 1200' hedge in the spring. I'll go over the plants with Plantskydd... It works. Just apply 3-4times per year. Had 80 head of elk in the pasture few weeks back and they didn't even nibble on 30 new tree which were Not fenced. Check it out.
 
Nick Kitchener
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Seabuckthorn makes a great hedge, will survive the cold, keep animals out, and provide fruit for you, birds and other animals.
 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 116
Location: Hamilton, MT
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bee chicken forest garden
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Yes. Sea buckthorn or sea berry are awesome. Not too mentioned n-fixer. This is on our hedge outer run as it will do all reported while allowing animals to graze. We then build interior with Rogusa rose, hawthorn and nm locust, while planting delectible berry bushes on the interior side for our grazing desires.
 
Chris McLeod
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Hi there! Down Under the old timers used to use hedges of Hawthorn bushes. There are some really good ones established around here. They are about 3m to 4m tall (9ft to 12ft). Nothing can get through that plant once it is well established, plus the berries are of medicinal value. They also survive drought etc. Regards. Chris
 
john giroux
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Location: Cumming, GA
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jack spirco of the survival podcast did a food hedge show a while ago. lots of species ideas.
 
Brenda Groth
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my "food forests" are kinda grown in hedges in many areas on our property..as I like having a path or trail thru my gardens so the sides end up being hedges, and basically food or other food forest helpers like inscectaries, DA, NF..etc..

I have a hedge with a multitude of raspberries that is interspersed with baby chestnut trees (hopefully some day the trees will no longer be babies and I might have to move the berries)..I have a hedge of american plum, dwarf american hazelnut and mulberries with some daylillies , jerusalem artichokes, and perennials and comfrey around the bases of the trees/bushes..these are near a line of black walnut, carpathian walnut, heartnut and butternuts interspersed among aspens as nurse trees and comfrey, daylillies, and several other perennials.

I have a line of dwarf pears interspersed with daylilllies, comfrey, and other perennials and a wild cherry.

I have another line of blackraspberry with daffodills and goutweed and daylillies..

I have a hedgerow along my fence with jerusalem artichokes, some evergreens and aspen, baby peach trees, wild berry bushes of all kinds

i have a row of jerusalem artichokes along a ditch with some baby trees of all kinds and have put a lot of jerusalem artichokes in my woods among the maples, ash, aspen and oaks.

I have some rows of grapevines, kiwi and fruit trees and some have asparagus, rhubarb and horseradish in them and berry bushes like blueberry, etc..

I'm always looking for more things to stick here and there (you can go on my blog and see photos)
 
Kalin Brown
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I am not attempting to keep animals in with my food hedge, just using it as a border for the front half of my property as the back half is already fenced for the dog. However, these are some of the plants that are going in:
-Blueberry
-Hazelnut
-Tea (Camelia Sinesus)
-Seabuckthorn
-Zanthoxylum Sichuan
-Zanthoxlyum Pipertum
 
Cal Burns
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This topic intrigues me. Am doing research to put in several edible fruit hedges along my 5 acre property in Texas. The back of our property borders a small river where the typical depth is only 2-3 feet but it is in the dreaded 100 year flood plain. The soil is alkaline, some rocks with limestone once down 6 or so inches.
The area I'm looking at right now is to put in a hedge row that roughly parallels the river with the purpose of providing some help with directing flood waters if that should ever happen and provides food for us with the rest for wildlife.
Any plants used would need to be easy to start from cuttings, grow well in full sun/partial shade in zone 8b in the Texas heat, have deep tap roots to break up the limestone. An added plus would be if it has thorny parts and if deer don't care for. Also, feel that the river will eventually have more foot traffic from hikers so want to plant as much as possible to enhance privacy.
Some plants I'm starting to look into include - aronia, jostaberry, goji (as vining filler), rosa rogusa, white mulberry, autumn olive, filbert, guava, plus willow. Would be planting to where each fruit took up about 10' of space along the hedge. Have also heard of people doing this with apples and other traditional fruit trees. Just need to keep cutting limbs and bending to inter-plant. Also below these plants I could inter-plant with blackberries and other plants to fill in holes in the hedge.
Thoughts?
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1106
Location: northern northern california
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Cal Burns wrote:
The area I'm looking at right now is to put in a hedge row that roughly parallels the river with the purpose of providing some help with directing flood waters if that should ever happen and provides food for us with the rest for wildlife.
Any plants used would need to be easy to start from cuttings, grow well in full sun/partial shade in zone 8b in the Texas heat, have deep tap roots to break up the limestone. An added plus would be if it has thorny parts and if deer don't care for. Also, feel that the river will eventually have more foot traffic from hikers so want to plant as much as possible to enhance privacy.
Some plants I'm starting to look into include - aronia, jostaberry, goji (as vining filler), rosa rogusa, white mulberry, autumn olive, filbert, guava, plus willow. Would be planting to where each fruit took up about 10' of space along the hedge. Have also heard of people doing this with apples and other traditional fruit trees. Just need to keep cutting limbs and bending to inter-plant. Also below these plants I could inter-plant with blackberries and other plants to fill in holes in the hedge.
Thoughts?


sounds great !
willows are water hogs, but if you have an overabundance of water they are good at stabilizing banks and stopping erosion. i've seen some really excellent woven living willow fences/walls/ terracing and bank support.

maybe some options:
fig ---> re root easily, layer easily
plums ---> re root easily, layer easily
serviceberry - amelchier
raspberry /blackberry
grapes, especially wild types
kiwi
passionflower/passionfruit
 
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