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Monthly Food Forest Tours! Let's create a food forest together!

 
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is Part 1 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/1/20.



I'm going to start trying to give an estimate of how long I've spent working in the food forest each week to give an idea of about how long it takes to do what I've done since last week. I spent about 2 hours between week 1 and week 2, 4 hours between week 2 and 3, and about 10 hours this week between week 3 and 4. A lot of the time I've spent so far has been preparing the basic minor earth shaping of the ground of the food forest. This should mostly be a one time investment of time, which will greatly help create well draining soil and also water retention, and will help reduce the work in the future!

I probably won't use large quantities of just finely cut grass and other plants as a mulch in the future. It seems to mat together too much and doesn't create an ideal growing area. I will probably use small amounts of it mixed with other types of mulches, but mostly I'll be using large pieces of cut green growth and preferably mostly whole and shredded leaves. The leaves help create a carbon rich soil preferred by most perennial plants, fruit trees, other trees and bushes, and even a lot of vegetables and other annual plants that can be beneficial in the food forest.

I made two large raised beds near the front of the current natural garden area. One is about 4 feet by 10 and the other is about 4 by 12. I'd like to have these areas as potential nursery beds for young plants. The soil in this area is like digging clouds and was so much easier to dig compared to the wetter back section of the food forest.

I have a few mulberry rootstock that I plan to graft named varieties onto soon! This will be my first year grafting, so we'll see how it goes!

I used some of the nearby dead goldenrod stems and broke them up to put onto some of the raised beds to help add carbon and build healthy soil in them.
 
pollinator
Posts: 381
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
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I'm glad you addressed your soil. I was thinking at the beginning of this, MAN, I'd just about kill to have soil like that! I'm in Georgia, and it's red clay. But in the areas where I've been adding in organic matter, it's getting better and better. Just amazing to see all the work you've done, Steve!

 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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Thanks Diane!

You're right, organic matter can make a HUGE difference!

Glad to hear your soil is getting better and better!
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 2 of the weekly food forest tour on 3/1/20.



Some honeybee friends are out and about and having fun!

The biggest of the older peach trees has less blossoms than it did last year, but it had a lot of blooms and peaches last year, so I'm guessing it is just taking it a little easier after producing a lot last year, which is fine with me.

The younger peach tree that we pruned off the branches from the rootstock is looking really healthy and in its second year of being planted has almost 100 flower blossoms on it, which I removed so that it it will put its energy into growing this year and be ready to produce some tasty peaches next year hopefully!

The seedling peach tree looks like it may be the earliest bloomer and grower of all of my peach trees.

Hopefully the cherry trees will have a few blossoms this year and maybe even produce a few cherries.

In the next video we'll look at the current system of pools and rainwater catchment systems that I've been working on recently.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 3 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/1/20.



I've been doing some minor earthworks by hand to build some pools and ditches throughout the food forest.

I currently have the ditches leading out from the pools dug down about six inches. As a result, the highest the pools will fill up with water currently will be about six inches from the top before overflowing into lower sections of the food forest. The ditch level can be raised or lowered as needed, to either hold more water in the pools or letting it flow down to lower sections if needed.

We're forecasted to get a good amount of rain this week, so I hope to dig the outline of a few more pools after the rainfall reveals where the wettest areas are.

I hope to create a lot more of these small pools, feeding into bigger pools all throughout the food forest!
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 4 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/1/20.



I piled up the soil from digging out the pools to put around the fruit trees. I wounded the trunks of the fruit trees before putting the soil on them so they will hopefully root this growing season and become own root fruit trees.

On one of the apple trees, it has a side branch coming out near the soil level, that I also wounded and may remove to create an additional own root apple tree. I may just leave it to create an apple bush.

Lots of pear buds are swelling!
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 5 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/1/20.



The plum tree is in full bloom! It smells soooooo good!

There is some powdery mildew on the older apple trees. I'll probably cut off the infected branches and burn them.

One of my mulberries appears to be very sensitive to cold. It has some bark peeling back near the base and the branches above ground appear to be dead, but will probably grow back from the roots like it did last year.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 1 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/8/20.



I spent a lot of time working in the food forest this week, about 25 hours, definitely the most so far, and probably the most all year long. Most of that time was spent grafting, and it probably took me a little longer than is normal, since this was my first year grafting.

I put them near the front of my enclosed existing natural garden area so they are closer and easier to check on.

I use a simple and easy gate for this area that is mainly used to keep deer and rabbits out. It's just a piece of fencing set beside the gate posts. It can be connected with a large zip tie to one of the posts to act as a kind of hinge, but it's really not necessary. It doesn't look the greatest, but it was made with what I had on hand and does the job!

I grafted mostly pears and apples, but also did a few mulberries. I try to pick varieties that will do well in my area and are disease resistant and vigorous growers for the most part. I also choose based on taste, but only if I think it meets the other two prerequisites. A tasty apple variety that won't produce any fruit here because of our climate or humidity doesn't do any good.

I'm burying the graft union on some of the trees with longer scions and have it right at the soil level on the ones with shorter scions. I've done this because I would like for all of these trees to become own root fruit trees hopefully by this Fall. I plan to add soil around the trees after about a month or so and may slightly wound them to hopefully encourage them to send out roots from the main variety and become own root fruit trees.

The mulberries had longer scions, so I buried mostly all of them with a few buds under the soil, so they may develop roots quicker than some of the other grafted trees. I hit one of them with the shovel when I was burying it, so I don't have very high hopes that one will make it, but it would be a nice surprise if it did.

The two cherry trees that I grafted about a month ago, which were my first grafts ever, are about to start budding out and look healthy. They were buried pretty deep also if I'm remembering correctly, so hopefully they'll send out some good roots soon also.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 2 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/8/20.



It looks like a good amount of the peach blossoms have survived the cold weather. There aren't a lot of flowers on the first larger peach tree, but it's interesting that its rootstock has a pretty large amount for its size. The second larger peach tree has a lot more flowers than the first.

Some of the peach trees have been starting to put on a little green growth. The seedling peach tree has put on the most so far. It'll be interesting to see of it is the first to put on green growth next year when it starts hopefully flowering at that time. The larger first peach tree was right behind it. It makes me think that the seedling may be from that tree.

I'm planning to mound up around the plum tree located under the seedling peach tree, so that it will hopefully put down some of its own roots and I can remove a few of the rooted branches that will become own root plum trees.

During this time of year, when the weather is cooler and wetter, I plan to try to leave the mini dams of the food forest pools lower, so that more water can freely flow through the pools and other areas of the food forest. In the Summer and Fall, when the weather is very hot and seems to be a little drier if not more infrequent between rains, I will most likely raise the dam height so that it will mostly fill up all the pools to their fullest before they overflow into the lower portions of the food forest. This will help trap and hold more moisture during the hottest and driest portions of the year when water escapes more quickly from the landscape.

I almost went for a swim!

I've added small mounds of soil around most of the fruit trees. I think gotten past the half way point, and hope to finish the rest soon. I don't have any mulch on hand right now, so I'm trying to spread some seed on them to get something growing on the new mounds as soon as possible.

The orange/rusty colored flower buds are really swelling on the pear trees, and will probably produce some flowers really soon.

The rootstock/seedling? part of the pear tree is producing its first flower buds this year, so it should be really interesting to see what those pears are like. It has grown really fast, in about 3 or 4 years it has grown to be about 15 feet tall or higher.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 3 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/8/20.



I've grafted a lot of different varieties of plums on the large plum tree whose flowers smell really good. This was my first year grafting overall, and these were the first large scale grafting I had done this year. It is much harder and uncomfortable grafting onto an existing tree, than bench grafting onto individual rootstocks sitting in a chair. I grafted them during the blooming phase, we'll see how they do!

One of the larger apple trees has a very upright growth habit, with some new shoots near the bottom growing almost straight up. I'll probably let them do their thing as they'll most likely send out some new growth from the sides and branch out more.

In the back propagation bed with the grape vine cuttings they're starting to bud out, and I've rubbed off all of the buds except for the one closest to the bottom on each cutting. This bed gets afternoon and evening shade whereas the other propagation bed gets full sun almost all day, except maybe in the very early morning and in the very late evening.

A lot of the willow cuttings are starting to put on some new growth for the year.
 
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