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Hello, newby with lots of questions

 
Russell Olson
Posts: 181
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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Hello there,
I'm taking the plunge and moving from a forum lurker to a interactive poster. It's time I get some advice from an enthusiastic bunch of permies.

Background for me, I live in MN zone 4 in the beautiful st. croix river valley. My wife and I were able to spoil ourselves with a phenomenal 10 acre property of former horse pasture/mature oak/maple/white pine woods, and have been rehabbing the house for 3 years(we needed all of them).

Now it's time to work on the property and while I have been an enthusiastic gardener and come from a line of farmers and country folk I have been learning the hard way that time and energy are not infinite and battling deer, weather, and weeds take time and energy.

I have to admit that I'm most interested in permiculture because I see it as a more efficient system of growing things than typical gardening/farming. I'm a voracious reader and came across this place through other sites/blogs. I'm blown away at the potential of permiculture to revolutionize the way we grow food and live with our natural surroundings.

I'm interested in establishing a system that can help me grow food, rehab my property's woods, and enrich my life by reducing the large amount of time and energy I seem to waste.
For instance I've put some work into a large 50' x 125' garden/orchard only to read that my work was flawed in some way. Raised beds dried out, apples were decimated by disease or deer, too little water, squash bugs(seriously where did these alien things come from), etc.
I'm hoping I can learn and grow, and again I think I'm spoiled by the intrinsic resources my property can give me:

Unlimited dead wood:
Oak wilt is taking 100 year old red oaks all over my property, I'd love to save them, but many have already fallen or died in just the 3 years, on top of that i have an infestation of buckthorn which blots out the sun for all seedling trees and low growing plants. I will need to cut down a lot of dead trees and I don't want to burn more than I need to.
I will need to replant the woods after the oaks succumb, there are mature black cherries, hackberry, and some maple but mostly it's dead elm, dying oak, and buckthorn.
I intend to replant with a food forest, the good thing is I'm 30 so I'll hopefully still be around for most anything I can think of to plant to bear nuts/fruit.

Many native useful plants and trees:
Wild grape, a low growing spreading raspberry groundcover plant, maples for sap, black walnut.
If anyone has a use for buckthorn good lord let me know. Better yet how to control it.

A varied topography, hills, pasture, white pine monoculture, oak, shade, sun, low areas, hilltops, even the soil seems to vary based on our proximity to what i assume was a glacial streambed from rocky to loam to sand.

My garden/orchard which was planted with much enthusiasm but little knowledge, but I have a love for the unusual and interesting as well as fruits/berries. As a result I spent whatever time I could in the garden accumulating a nice selection of plants, shrubs, and trees all behind an 8' fence to protect them. I assume I can use this as a "basecamp" to proliferate and propagate seedlings and cuttings from. I have a passion for the strange, though at zone 4 my options will always be limited it seems.


First round of questions:
Buckthorn removal permiculturally? I've cut and sprayed, it doesn't seem to work. I have read goats eat it, but will they kill it? Any help would be great. I've noticed boxelder trees seem to be outcompeting it in some spots, but I really don't want to wait on that as a solution.

What to do with the massive amount of oak, elm, and buckthorn wood? I'd leave it standing dead, but it's really dangerous. A 150 year old red oak fell and ripped a 3' around cherry off clean when it crashed. I can't just leave widowmaker trees standing until they all fall. Obviously hugels and firewood, but maybe there are other uses for such a surplus of large pieces.

Deer immune hedge plants. I hope to surround the property in a living food hedge of some sort. The deer here are voracious, but then they always are aren't they?
I've read Jerusalem artichokes and maximillian sunflowers, I have prickly ash thickets that seem to be undisturbed. I am going to experiment with osage orange, blackthorn, hawthorn, wild plum, rugosa rose, and maybe hedge lay boxelder which seem to not be their favorite. I really want to avoid using buckthorn if possible unless there’s a way to control it better.

Propagating, best setup for growing seedlings, easiest seedlings to start, easiest way to grow up cuttings, and easiest way to graft scions. an intro to propagation if you will, I'm assuming there are some species that are just more difficult than others.
I'll have many others, but I'm writing a novel here so thank you in advance and I hope I can soak up the knowledge, spawn interesting discussions, and report back on the results of my endeavor.
 
Wes Hunter
Posts: 108
Location: Seymour, MO
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I just read a SARE report a few days ago about someone in Minnesota who was using pigs to eliminate buckthorn. Here's the link.
 
Mike woods
Posts: 2
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Since you won't be lurker anymore, I will take that role for little period of time
 
Sean Banks
Posts: 153
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standing stags do create habitat for many species like woodpecks but if they are a serious safety concern then remove them. The only use I see besides hugel beds would be to create biochar or to shred them and do a back to eden style garden.
Buckthorn does have one medicinal use that I know of and thats as a laxative which is created from the bark. They can also be used as fodder for goats and sheep but cows will not eat them. For control I would suggest either using animals or hacking them back with a good machete.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Pie
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Hey Russell - welcome to "posting" status!

I've been through the La Croix area - BEAUTIFUL - lucky you!

You might check out this article on the PRI site: Woody Agriculture – On the Road to a New Paradigm (illustrates a site in MN). There is also this sitefor the cold climates of the upper Midwest.

 
Russell Olson
Posts: 181
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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Thanks! I'm here to learn!
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 464
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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There is a good discussion going on about Fedges in here somewhere...
ah here it is:
http://www.permies.com/t/29975/forest-garden/Food-hedges

That will help with the deer a bit. You can always make some bone sauce which will keep them away for a decade:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4xVKVc4NYQ

The natural thing to do with loads of dead wood is hugelkultur.
 
Daniel Clifford
Posts: 53
Location: Eastern Massachusetts
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Hi Russel,

I read this thread a couple of days ago and then I came across this funny video about the highland cattle breed which says they will eat buckthorn and I thought of your post so I thought I would post it on here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQemoAYksOo


I don't know how feasible implementing cattle grazing is for you but it I just thought it was an interesting coincidence.

Good Luck

Daniel

end of the video may have been unecassary
 
Russell Olson
Posts: 181
Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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All great suggestions.
This buckthorn is a son of a. If I can find an animal solution that would be great.
I have actually worked on a dead wood hedge made with the cut buckthorn, it's alot of work, but I can stack the trees 8' high and it seems to keep the deer at bay.
I'll have to experiment with planting live hedge plants inside of it and see how that works, it may be too shady for most.
Thanks for the suggestions, now if we can just get spring here soon so i can plant some stuff.
 
Wayne Mackenzie
Posts: 98
Location: Sunizona Az., USA @ 4,400' Zone 8a
greening the desert
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When I read about all of those expendable hard wood trees, First thing I thought of was Mushrooms
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 464
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Buckthorn is a pioneer tree which means that the best way to deal with it is to live with it until it gives way to a mature tree system.

If you're planting a food forest and fedges, the chances are that in a few years, the buckthorn will simply disappear. In the meantime you can use it for mulch, firewood and hugel beds.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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here in Michgan there are a lot of trees dying as well..we lost most of our elms, the ash are dying now from the emerald ash borers, i hear that oaks are dying, so far ours are fine. some of the maples seem to have a problem, a few white pines have died off..

I hate that..I really hate that.

I am planting every single type of tree I can find to plant, hopefully some of them will be death resistant..I'm mostly putting in edibles right now like fruit and nut trees, but also evergreens as they seem to be living better than the deciduous trees for some reason.

wherever I go i grab seeds or fruits and bury them all over the field next to us..hoping some of them will gow...but I also buy seedlings, and grafted trees just to get live trees established.

you can see on my blog below.

not familiar with buckthorn but think I'll avoid it
 
Katie Erickson
Posts: 5
Location: MN Zone 4b
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Russell Olson wrote:
Deer immune hedge plants. I hope to surround the property in a living food hedge of some sort. The deer here are voracious, but then they always are aren't they?
I've read Jerusalem artichokes and maximillian sunflowers, I have prickly ash thickets that seem to be undisturbed. I am going to experiment with osage orange, blackthorn, hawthorn, wild plum, rugosa rose, and maybe hedge lay boxelder which seem to not be their favorite. I really want to avoid using buckthorn if possible unless there’s a way to control it better.


Hi Russell, I am from Central MN, Zone 4b, & just beginning a permaculture "hobby-farm." I'm wondering how your experimenting went the last couple years, in partcular, the Osage Orange. Is it growing for you?
 
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