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Help Me Convince My Father!

 
Nolan Robert
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Hey all.

Here's the story:

Peach tree surrounded by annual weeds. He wants to clear them all out so we can "plan what to do". I keep telling him to leave them there until we are ready and have a plan of what to put in there (I'm thinking sweet potatoes and Taro).

I tell him that we shouldn't leave the soil bare and cooking in the sun, like we have in the past. His retort, "we need to get this shit out of here so it's 'clean' ". Completely emotional response from him. And I get it, he was brought up in a different time than me, different info and such.

Do you guys have any articles you know of that briefly explain why it is important to keep the soil covered, especially in an arid-mediterranean area like Southern California? Or anything I can tell him?

I'm going to use the dutch hoe to weed out the spot. Cut right above the roots, leaving them in the soil, and than leaving the tops on top of the soil. That should buy me some time and still benefit the soil!
 
Cj Sloane
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Would he be OK with bark mulch covering it?
As for convincing him, I'd let one of Geoff Lawtons videos do the talking. You could taking him into a wooded area show him how nature does it and how nature abhors a vacuum and you're asking for worse weeds if you disturb the land.
 
Nolan Robert
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Cj Verde wrote:Would he be OK with bark mulch covering it?
As for convincing him, I'd let one of Geoff Lawtons videos do the talking. You could taking him into a wooded area show him how nature does it and how nature abhors a vacuum and you're asking for worse weeds if you disturb the land.


Possibly. I think he might just want to see something being done, rather than what he perceives as nothing happening.

I don't live in a place where there are temperate forests however, so I don't know if that will be the best example, because our landscape looks like a scrubland. (when there isn't houses on it and imported plants )
 
Miles Flansburg
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What type of weeds are they Nolan ?
If you can identify them and then show some benefit that they are providing, other than just ground cover, that might help.
For instance deep roots help break up the soil and bring up nutrients and water...things like that.
 
Nolan Robert
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Miles Flansburg wrote:What type of weeds are they Nolan ?
If you can identify them and then show some benefit that they are providing, other than just ground cover, that might help.
For instance deep roots help break up the soil and bring up nutrients and water...things like that.


Well let's see;

I think I have mallow growing out there. the majority of the weeds in the area I'm thinking of look like wheat almost, but shorter and smaller. they are grassy, and bunch rather than sprawl. Their root systems aren't very extensive, I think.
 
Charles Tarnard
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I don't really expect this to work, but could you try to convince him to give it one season while you work it out? Just concede that it'll look like crap for one season (you don't have to believe it, but it will give you a little leeway), but by the time everything gets settled out it will be perfect and all according to plan.

It sounds like he is far more concerned about the look than the soil health or any of that. If you can get him to loosen his grip on that, even temporarily, that might be the angle.

Or you may be headed for a very steep battle. Good luck.
 
Matu Collins
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How big is the peach tree? Tall and exuberant weeds can compete with a small tree.

If it were me I'd go out there, selectively weed and spread mulch. I'd leave the mallow, I love mallow and it looks pretty almost like a geranium.

Can you identify the grasses more specifically? There are so many types with such varying growing habits. Until I could figure out what they are I'd chop and drop the grasses pretty short.

I'd also do something to create an attractive visual edge, a border. Here we have lots of rocks but whatever you have access to. If the area looks tended to it may ease his discomfort. If he sees you out there regularly you will be immune to the charge of laziness!

I don't know if this is true for you in your drier climate but here peach trees require scrupulous orchard hygiene because of fungal disease so lots of thick understory isn't a good idea. One mummified moldy peach can throw a lot of spores.

 
Ann Torrence
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I'm not liking the idea of root crops in the root zone of the peach, with the need to disturb the area for harvest. What's the irrigation regime? Inland hot summers or coastal maritime (are we dealing with fog all summer that will encourage fungal issues?) Do you know your Sunset zone (kind of like USDA but more refined for local climate)?

Here's an alternate plan that might satisfy dad for immediate action, long-term tidiness and suitability for climate. Am assuming the typical California drip system is in place that will let you direct water to each planting zone.

-chop and drop the weeds and rake away temporarily, being careful of the drip lines. While doing this, encourage familial harmony and cooperation and tell Dad he was right about that step even though he doesn't have your vision of what's coming next.

-cover the ground with cardboard out past the drip line. The cardboard will decompose, but help smother the weeds at first.

-cover the center of the cardboard with gravel 3-4" deep, about 3' diameter around the tree, right up to the trunk. This keeps the soil moist, gives good air flow to reduce fungal issues, makes it easy to clean up the dropped fruit which is key breaking the cycle of many diseases. We like the pea gravel rather than the bigger 3/4" screen, easier to shovel, but whatever you can get. Landscaping rock from the big box store will work fine.

-beyond the gravel, do some light sheet mulching with the weeds and whatever else you've got-maybe 6" deep, topped with some tidy looking, moisture holding bark.

-plant the circumference with Mediterranean perennial plants like oregano, thyme, rosemary, lavender, all the laminaceae you can get for bee support. There is a thought that plants in the mint family confuse pests. I recall there are some gorgeous prostrate rosemary options in California that spread well. Use perennial alliums (walking onions; daylilies, a fantastic edible) for the root layer. Your California natives like poppies and globe mallow, some of the cacti, bread seed poppy, and perennial or reseeding biennial things in the carrot family, like parsley and fennel, are also good for bees. And anything in the aster family (sunflower family) like echinaceas, gaillardias, etc. You are also looking for year round host plants for your aphid-eaters, so lots of diversity. There are some native lupines that I recall as well, but it's been a long time since I studied my CA flowers. Comfrey, not so sure how that will do in California, but it's an option. As you extend farther out, some low shrubs will start to fit. Depends on how much water you want to apply. Capers? Lower junipers? Manzanita? Currants? If you have enough summer heat, you could even do some trellised grapes (peach limbs aren't so strong that I'd want heavy grape vines to climb it, and it's a short lived tree compared to the grape anyway). Other vines that are climate-appropriate: honeysuckle, bougainvillea, wisteria (needs a heavy trellis), kiwi, passionfruit. Depending on how much shade this tree throws, you might find a niche for some perennial greens which would be nice in hot summer zones. That gets you nearly all of the 7 permaculture layers right there.

-leave some dry soil nearby for the solitary bees to nest in. Someplace that dad won't disturb which is another good reason to get some low water demand shrubs nearby.

-If you want inspiration for plant choices, I'd visit one of the old mission gardens, like the one at the Santa Barbara Mission. It's not permie, but heritage plants have a lot of merit in a scheme like this and those padres knew some stuff about edibles in Mediterranean climate. Might be helpful to walk around such a place with dad and discuss what's possible and desirable with visual aids.

-send photos!
 
Nolan Robert
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Matu Collins wrote:How big is the peach tree? Tall and exuberant weeds can compete with a small tree.

If it were me I'd go out there, selectively weed and spread mulch. I'd leave the mallow, I love mallow and it looks pretty almost like a geranium.

Can you identify the grasses more specifically? There are so many types with such varying growing habits. Until I could figure out what they are I'd chop and drop the grasses pretty short.

I'd also do something to create an attractive visual edge, a border. Here we have lots of rocks but whatever you have access to. If the area looks tended to it may ease his discomfort. If he sees you out there regularly you will be immune to the charge of laziness!

I don't know if this is true for you in your drier climate but here peach trees require scrupulous orchard hygiene because of fungal disease so lots of thick understory isn't a good idea. One mummified moldy peach can throw a lot of spores.



It's generally dry here, so fungus has never been a problem.

I honestly have no clue what the weeds are called, but I went ahead and got out the old hand sickle and wacked em down. I left them on the soil though, so it remains covered.
 
Nolan Robert
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Ann Torrence wrote:I'm not liking the idea of root crops in the root zone of the peach, with the need to disturb the area for harvest. What's the irrigation regime? Inland hot summers or coastal maritime (are we dealing with fog all summer that will encourage fungal issues?) Do you know your Sunset zone (kind of like USDA but more refined for local climate)?

Here's an alternate plan that might satisfy dad for immediate action, long-term tidiness and suitability for climate. Am assuming the typical California drip system is in place that will let you direct water to each planting zone.

-chop and drop the weeds and rake away temporarily, being careful of the drip lines. While doing this, encourage familial harmony and cooperation and tell Dad he was right about that step even though he doesn't have your vision of what's coming next.

-cover the ground with cardboard out past the drip line. The cardboard will decompose, but help smother the weeds at first.

-cover the center of the cardboard with gravel 3-4" deep, about 3' diameter around the tree, right up to the trunk. This keeps the soil moist, gives good air flow to reduce fungal issues, makes it easy to clean up the dropped fruit which is key breaking the cycle of many diseases. We like the pea gravel rather than the bigger 3/4" screen, easier to shovel, but whatever you can get. Landscaping rock from the big box store will work fine.

-beyond the gravel, do some light sheet mulching with the weeds and whatever else you've got-maybe 6" deep, topped with some tidy looking, moisture holding bark.

-plant the circumference with Mediterranean perennial plants like oregano, thyme, rosemary, lavender, all the laminaceae you can get for bee support. There is a thought that plants in the mint family confuse pests. I recall there are some gorgeous prostrate rosemary options in California that spread well. Use perennial alliums (walking onions; daylilies, a fantastic edible) for the root layer. Your California natives like poppies and globe mallow, some of the cacti, bread seed poppy, and perennial or reseeding biennial things in the carrot family, like parsley and fennel, are also good for bees. And anything in the aster family (sunflower family) like echinaceas, gaillardias, etc. You are also looking for year round host plants for your aphid-eaters, so lots of diversity. There are some native lupines that I recall as well, but it's been a long time since I studied my CA flowers. Comfrey, not so sure how that will do in California, but it's an option. As you extend farther out, some low shrubs will start to fit. Depends on how much water you want to apply. Capers? Lower junipers? Manzanita? Currants? If you have enough summer heat, you could even do some trellised grapes (peach limbs aren't so strong that I'd want heavy grape vines to climb it, and it's a short lived tree compared to the grape anyway). Other vines that are climate-appropriate: honeysuckle, bougainvillea, wisteria (needs a heavy trellis), kiwi, passionfruit. Depending on how much shade this tree throws, you might find a niche for some perennial greens which would be nice in hot summer zones. That gets you nearly all of the 7 permaculture layers right there.

-leave some dry soil nearby for the solitary bees to nest in. Someplace that dad won't disturb which is another good reason to get some low water demand shrubs nearby.

-If you want inspiration for plant choices, I'd visit one of the old mission gardens, like the one at the Santa Barbara Mission. It's not permie, but heritage plants have a lot of merit in a scheme like this and those padres knew some stuff about edibles in Mediterranean climate. Might be helpful to walk around such a place with dad and discuss what's possible and desirable with visual aids.

-send photos!


No drip system in place here! It's an old tree.

I agree with the root crop thing. I think I will stick with the native shrubbery and herbs. I have some rosemary and lavender that I never water that does great out here.

I want to use as little water as possible, so I think I'm going to go mostly with natives and desert plants.

Oh yeah, and he's not in to nopales or agave fruit or anything because "that's not what normal people eat". I'm trying to plant some anyways. He's the type of guy that you have to show him something, some proof, or else he wont agree or believe what your saying.
 
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