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Holzer Fruit Tree System

 
Posts: 219
Location: Iowa City, Iowa Zone 5
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Zach,

can you post some photos of the fruit trees of the Krameterhof? How do the species alternate along the row? Groundcover? Animal integration?

 
steward
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And is it true he grows citrus ?
 
pollinator
Posts: 363
Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
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Zach - One thing that I remembered him mentioning in his seminar last spring is that, because of the cold (if I remember correctly), he was able to get really concentrated sugars in his fruit that were especially attractive to liquor makers. I know that the Krameterhof has a significant change in elevation from top to bottom. Does he plant the same cultivars at the top and the bottom and end up with staggered fruit harvest because of the effects in the elevation changes? I would think that if that was the case and it worked, it would only serve to increase the harvest that he has available to offer to those liquor companies.
 
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Location: twin tiers of WNY zone 5A
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Zach, based on Holzer designs, what would you say would be the zone difference one could plant for. Ect. using microclimate techniques, in a zone 5 area (yes,
mine ) what's the lowest I might be able to import and grow sustainably? Really interested in your reply, as I am in my planning stages. Thanks, Ray
.
 
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Location: 10 miles NW of Helena Montana
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I am currently reading the sepp holzer - permaculture--a practical guide to small-scale, integrative farming and gardening.pdf. I live here in NW Montana at about 3000 feet and fruit trees seem like... "no-way", crab apples, maybe.

But he has fantastic looking fruit growing at 5000 ft. Wow.... He does it on a mountain side and I live in the valley floor.

I am only 29 years old, (have been celebrating that birthday for 32 years now, ), and find that I really can learn new things!

Going to be trying some new "produce" in my back yard real soon.

 
pollinator
Posts: 304
Location: Montana
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This is a really juicy question, I'm excited to bite into it.

Grant Schultz wrote:can you post some photos of the fruit trees of the Krameterhof? How do the species alternate along the row? Groundcover? Animal integration?



It's hard to get pictures that show perspective for a forest when everywhere you go it's forest, here's the best ones I can find.







You can see there aren't really any rows, they are more like patches on the flats and slopes of terraces. No specific pattern of alternation although species were somewhat grouped together for ease of harvest. For each cultivated variety they also had the wild type, which serves as both root stock and food for the wild animals. Josef said that the birds prefer the wild cherries, if he grows the wild varieties, and the cultivated side by side (using the wild-types as root stock) then the birds harvest the wild cherries and leave the cultivated varieties for him. Grafting onto wild root stocks is the only way they are able to grow many of the varieties they have. They grow pears for example, using mountain ash as the root stock. Because no one else can grow pears in the region, and their temperatures are so cold, they have no problem with fire-blight. This enables them to grow the varieties that were traditionally used for schnapps. These varieties are extremely rare nowadays, because they are so susceptible to fire-blight, and so they provide a good return.



Ground cover - everything under the sun and let nature figure it out. Clovers, trefoils, lupines, wild flowers, greens, grains, vegetables, a huge diversity of things in a wide range of micro-climates.

Animal integration - this is my favorite part of this question. One thing that I didn't fully realize until going to Austria, a lot of the incredible fruit and nut crops that Sepp is growing are for his animals. He lets the animals do the harvesting for him, and has a couple of great techniques for this. On steep enough slopes the fruit falls off the trees and rolls down to the terraces, this is where the animal's paddocks are so they can eat all of the fallen fruit. In other areas he has the animals right in with the fruit trees. When the pigs smell that a fruit tree is ripe they will ram into the trunk so that the tree drops it's fresh fruit.

People have said how can you do this? This is such a shame! Wonderful, natural, organic produce going to waste! Can I come and harvest it instead? And he tells them to grow their own fruit trees, his are for his pigs!

The reality is that Sepp Holzer's pigs are eating higher quality food than the vast majority of Americans. I can only imagine that the nutritional content and vitality of an animal that has been razed this way is a league of it's own.

Miles Flansburg wrote:And is it true he grows citrus ?



Sepp will see your citrus and raise you a banana! He used to grow citrus at the Krameterhof, now that he is in a bit warmer region of Austria he is growing Bananas and Figs. I guess citrus would have been too easy... His technique for such incredible micro-climates is a multi-pronged approach. First the plant needs to be in it's ideal soil, with appropriate moisture. Being in morning sun and getting the late day shade provides the warmest orientation. Having the warm reflecting off a body of water from this late day sun is the best.



But what about the winter, surely such long harsh winters would be too severe for a citrus to survive, and now Bananas and Figs?! Sepp's trick for this is to but some chicken wire around the plant and give it some room. He then fills the enclosure with leaves and straw, forming a thick layer of insulation. He over winters the plants outside with these techniques, then removes the "blanket" once it is warm enough in the spring. Josef is no longer growing citrus at the Krameterhof, as he does not share his father's taste for the exotic, preferring the native species of the region.

Jen Shrock wrote:Does he plant the same cultivars at the top and the bottom and end up with staggered fruit harvest because of the effects in the elevation changes?



They have most certainly planted the same cultivars at the top and bottom to prolong the harvest. Because they are so high in the mountains they have cherries that aren't ripe till the middle or even late summer, giving them an extended harvest and a steady supply while the markets start to run out.

Ray Star wrote:based on Holzer designs, what would you say would be the zone difference one could plant for. Ect. using microclimate techniques, in a zone 5 area... what's the lowest I might be able to import and grow sustainably?



In my opinion the zone system is a really poor way to judge climate. There are tons of factors that affect plant growth, minimum growing temperature is just one. The micro-climates provide ideal growing spaces, areas where plants that would otherwise struggle can survive. Wind and weather are the most damaging elements to plants. If plants are sheltered they can survive some pretty extreme temperatures. So you can't really say you gain this many zones with a Krater Garden. I would still plants hearty resilient things that are going to really thrive rather than merely survive. If your factoring economics into sustainability, lemons in a frigid climate are not going to be a cash crop. Granted proving that you can grow them provides many benefits, but I don't get the impression that Sepp was producing enough lemons to be worth selling them.
 
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I don't suppose you could have a contest where we travel to see and learn from the Mighty Sepp in person? One can dream.
 
Mother Tree
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D. Young wrote:I don't suppose you could have a contest where we travel to see and learn from the Mighty Sepp in person? One can dream.



Um, have you seen this thread?
 
steward
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Zach Weiss wrote:For each cultivated variety they also had the wild type, which serves as both root stock and food for the wild animals. Josef said that the birds prefer the wild cherries, if he grows the wild varieties, and the cultivated side by side (using the wild-types as root stock) then the birds harvest the wild cherries and leave the cultivated varieties for him. Grafting onto wild root stocks is the only way they are able to grow many of the varieties they have. They grow pears for example, using mountain ash as the root stock. Because no one else can grow pears in the region, and their temperatures are so cold, they have no problem with fire-blight. This enables them to grow the varieties that were traditionally used for schnapps. These varieties are extremely rare nowadays, because they are so susceptible to fire-blight, and so they provide a good return.


Field grafting in summer or bench grafting in winter?
Interested in knowing specific schnapps pear varieties, and his sources of scion wood
Any apples for cider? (I believe in German it's called apple wine even if it is cider-like) Again, am interested in traditional varieties.
Are they using the Mountain Ash fruit for anything? Wine-making?

Scion wood for varieties that work at his altitude would be something I'd like to trial here, if the Cornell repository has them.
 
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Zach Weiss wrote:
But what about the winter, surely such long harsh winters would be too severe for a citrus to survive, and now Bananas and Figs?! Sepp's trick for this is to but some chicken wire around the plant and give it some room. He then fills the enclosure with leaves and straw, forming a thick layer of insulation. He over winters the plants outside with these techniques, then removes the "blanket" once it is warm enough in the spring. Josef is no longer growing citrus at the Krameterhof, as he does not share his father's taste for the exotic, preferring the native species of the region.


Is there any place with documentation of those fruit tree "blanket baskets" like diagrams or video..that's really interesting

 
pollinator
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I do not understand how he makes it for animals not to damage trees, as some animals not only eat ripe fruits but also bark or leaves!
Are there some plants like edibles or medicinals that are not for animals in these animal zones around trees?
Is an animal accessed zone only for animals?

If I do not want to carry manure, then animals should drop it where I have my own food growing!!!
So, I understand chicken tractors, even if I do not like it for chicks and do not want to do it...

How much for humans and how much for animals in place and crops....?
 
Zach Weiss
pollinator
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Ann, Sepp does his grafting as soon as the sap starts to flow in the spring, it has never been the right time of year during a workshop to do this. The grafts that we saw at the Krameterhof were cleft grafts. There were indeed apples as well, and the Mountain Ash also produces a high quality schnapps. I don't quite understand all of the tradition behind it but from what I understand the schnapps in Austria is as much a medicine as an alcohol. Josef did saw the variety of pear, but it was German with no direct translation.

The Cornell repository has every variety they can find, I can't think of a better place to get scion wood in the US.

Luke Vaillancourt wrote:Is there any place with documentation of those fruit tree "blanket baskets" like diagrams or video..that's really interesting



Not that I know of, this past workshop in Austria is the first time I've heard him talk about it.

Xisca, if there is not more desirable forage in a paddock than the bark of the trees I don't think Sepp would use that paddock at that time. With mature trees and plenty of desirable forage the animals are merely doing his pruning by eating the lower leaves and branches. He prefers not to prune fruit trees, leaving something for all the various wildlife on the way up. The smaller mammals prune the lower branches the ungulates prune the middle ones, and above that is for him. What he does not harvest falls on the ground, providing more forage for the animals.
 
Luke Vaillancourt
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Thanks for addressing this Zach and again its so awesome to have someone with some deep knowledge on Sepp specific topics and techniques
 
pollinator
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Zach Weiss wrote:They grow pears for example, using mountain ash as the root stock.



What a great tidbit! I just planted 100 European Mountain Ash saplings because they are good fodder trees for livestock. And since I just developed a tasted for pears I planted my first pear tree. I just bought the Omega grafting tool so I'll have to try it out next March.
 
Maybe he went home and went to bed. And took this tiny ad with him:
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