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plant the foodforest close to cedars or in the bad soil 100 feet away?

 
Katherine Baker
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Location: Southern New England
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So I am assuming that a permies approach would say that better soil will help your fruit trees resist rust but I am still wondering if I should try to put the fruit farther away if possible? Maybe put the nut trees closer to the cedars?
The fruit trees are all rust resistant.
I am n a suburban yard, zone 6 a.
I see no rust on the cedars now.

I have 18 skinny 30 foot cedars in an old hedge (north and east corner) gone out of control in yard that's approx 1500 square ft yard. If they were cheap to get rid of I might just cut them down but they are tricky to bring down safely and will be expensive and I do like the privacy I have in upstairs windows.
Is this food forest doomed?
 
Amy Woodhouse
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Location: NC, Zone 7
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There are plenty of people that don't have a lot that is 100 foot wide, their neighbor has cedar trees and they have fruit trees. Don't over think it...buy the toughest trees you can find and go for it. Make sure you plant different types of trees and different varieties of each so if you have failure with one you still have food coming in.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I cut trees for money. Assuming that these trees are about a foot in diameter, and that they must come down in pieces, I'm guessing that this would cost between $300 and $500 in my city, if you do your own cleanup. Each tree would produce 2 useful posts and some firewood.

Get a quote from a one man and a chainsaw outfit. They advertise on Craigslist. After he's done, chop up every bit for firewood, right down to stuff the size of your thumb.
 
Katherine Baker
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Thanks Dale! It is tempting. I really am on the fence about the cedars. I would love to keep them if they wouldn't kill my other stuff. Do you think it's risky to keep them?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Most cedars will outlive you, they will occupy space, block light and shed waste while producing nothing other than wood and work. They are a great thing to have growing in the forest but are ill suited to most residential situations. The posts that I mentioned, might be worth $100-$200 if you can find a market. So, these trees have taken years to produce a crop with a negative value. Had the space been filled with fruit trees, they would have produced far more value than the cost of their eventual removal and the waste would not poison the soil. I admit a bias toward almost all big evergreens being grown within 200 ft of buildings, except where they are part of a shelter belt.
 
Christopher G Williams
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Location: Ossineke, MI
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I don't feel very strongly one way or another, but just to play devil's advocate: Cedars grow in a specific area for a reason; usually they are one of only a couple trees that can handle a particular micro-climate(low, wet, sometimes seasonally flooded). You have to wonder what you would be able to replace them with if you did remove them...

They are a beautiful tree to look at(year 'round), which is valuable to me anyway. They make very poor firewood and aren't really appropriate for lumber, aside from niche woodworking stuff like cedar chests and of course posts, so you aren't going to profit much from their removal. And like you said it will cost to have them dropped.

When I was clearing my one acre garden I made the border where the cedars started. They make a nice hedgerow and I was concerned I wouldn't be able to plant much where they are anyway, due to the wet soil and issues with the microbiology from their droppings. I have had success planting a variety of annuals and now a few nut and berry bushes a mere 5 to 10ft from where they start; they don't seem to be effected by the proximity at all.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Christopher G Williams wrote:I don't feel very strongly one way or another, but just to play devil's advocate: Cedars grow in a specific area for a reason; usually they are one of only a couple trees that can handle a particular micro-climate(low, wet, sometimes seasonally flooded). You have to wonder what you would be able to replace them with if you did remove them...

They are a beautiful tree to look at(year 'round), which is valuable to me anyway. They make very poor firewood and aren't really appropriate for lumber, aside from niche woodworking stuff like cedar chests and of course posts, so you aren't going to profit much from their removal. And like you said it will cost to have them dropped.

When I was clearing my one acre garden I made the border where the cedars started. They make a nice hedgerow and I was concerned I wouldn't be able to plant much where they are anyway, due to the wet soil and issues with the microbiology from their droppings. I have had success planting a variety of annuals and now a few nut and berry bushes a mere 5 to 10ft from where they start; they don't seem to be effected by the proximity at all.

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There are many members of the cypress and juniper families that are called cedar and can survive very dry conditions.
Western red cedar are not nearly so specific about wet ground. I have some growing in well drained glacial till than never floods. Summer drought can go 4 months. They suck up all available surface moisture held over from the rainy season and deplete reserves to the point where most edible plants dry up. They grow all over Victoria in places that could be occupied by 100 different trees and thousands of different plants. They create light and soil conditions that favor cedar.

In groves, a dense canopy develops and darkness prevents most plants from having any chance. Several inches of crap accumulate annually.
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On the positive side, the wood has many uses. I won't cut my biggest cedar, but if it blows down, I'll get at least $1000 worth of wood and possibly much more. Groves of cedar trees make a great spot to shelter during heavy rain, since they absorb some and most of it is shed to the drip line. It's the perfect spot for air drying lumber.
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This ill advised "hedge" was planted 60 years ago. It was topped at 18 ft. about 30 years ago. Now the new tops go 50 ft above that cut line. The largest ones are 30 inches in diameter at 2 ft. above soil level. The entire yard is shaded and covered in crap. It runs for 105 ft. on their southern border. I've priced the job of removal at $2000. They probably won't do it, due to the expense and will let it get taller still. There are only a few really poor choices for hedging that could result in an expensive project like this. These big forest species are best left out of the urban landscape.
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Christopher G Williams
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Wow, that is a large tree... I guess I should open my mind a little bit; I always think of Thuja occidentalis (northern/eastern white cedar) when someone says 'cedar'. Although I am aware that they aren't 'true' cedars... I used to live out in western WA too, among the huge cedars, and of course I'm familiar with the 'Cedars of Lebanon', which obviously must tolerate some pretty dry conditions. I guess this is a situation where latin names would add some clarity...
 
Dale Hodgins
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It's the same with maples, with about 190 varieties. They range from big timber to vines. Sugar and black maples want good drainage, silver maples survive seasonal flooding and high water tables. Cut down a sugar maple and it is pretty much dead. Cut down a broad leaf maple and get 25 coppice sprouts.
 
Katherine Baker
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So I have decided to keep the cedars (for now) since they provide privacy and my kids love to climb them but on your advice I will not be afraid to treat them a little tough since you say they are bullying types.

they happen to form a hedge (planted every20 inches) across my south facing wall/ fence (about 18 inches from the wall) that I would have liked to use to espalier fruit trees or grape vines across.

Here is my idea:
prune back the cedars to 10-12 feet up and espalier my fruit trees/ climbing vines right across the trunks on the cedars (they are in a straight line).

is that nuts?

here are the problems I foresee and my initial ideas to fix them:
1) root invasion (use containers for fruit)
2) dryness ( use drip irrigation with lots of mulch)
3) ongoing threat of cedar rust (use rust resistant varieties of fruit)
4) over acidifying the fruits by cedar "droppings" (use acid loving fruits? I can only think of shrubs right now like blueberries. Which ones are climbing? raspberries?)

which fruit would be best if I try this? grapes? should I try the apple here or no?
are there any other problems with this idea that I should know about?
I really don't want to loose all my fruit trees
please let me know if you think its a bad idea...

thanks!
 
Dale Hodgins
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The hedge side of the fruit trees will be rather sparse due to shading.

I would plant in the soil, not in pots. You can add lime and rake cedar debris away from the drip lines.

As the trees grow, remove the adjacent cedars, leaving the best climbers for last. As the fruit trees grow, so will the kids. They'll move on to other recreational activities. A cable ride across the yard, trumps most other play things. In the long run, you'll be glad to see the cedars go.

Espalier pruning has it's benefits. I've done it along pathways. Pears and peaches look good when pruned this way. Raccoons often nest in or under cedar hedges because it's dry and dark. They like fruit.
 
Katherine Baker
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Location: Southern New England
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Ha! We have a cable ride diagonally across the area attached to the cedars at both ends.lol....yes I think we are going to have to get rid of them one by one. The cedars....not the kids. Yes I was dreading making raised beds or containers.... so you don't think the roots will be a problem?
 
Dale Hodgins
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They will be, but not nearly so problematic as having your trees set too high forever. They would need more water and earlier soil warming in the spring could cause early flowering, followed by late frosts. It's generally wise to promote late flowering.
 
Katherine Baker
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Location: Southern New England
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I keep reading that about late flowering so now I don't know what to put in the warm spot by the south facing wall that is not covered by the cedars. What fruit can go there? A hArdy fig? Late bloomers I suppose?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Tim Wells
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I would look at the weed growth as an indicator of conditions and do a test planting in each location and review the growth. Prob better to plant in the bad soil and spot improve the planting hole, mulch and nurse crops.
 
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