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Have you ever let grass grow around your fruit tree

 
Nathan Pickard
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Stephan. I enjoyed the movie very much. I was wondering whether you have ever let grass grow around your fruit tree and can talk about the difference in yield?
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Nathan Pickard wrote:Stephan. I enjoyed the movie very much. I was wondering whether you have ever let grass grow around your fruit tree and can talk about the difference in yield?

I planted another 1.5 acre block in 2008 the year after the block in the movie. I let grass grow around the trees. It's a disaster. Many trees are 4 feet high and covered in flowers. These trees should be 12 feet high. Yield is 10-20% of what they should be. A third block of 2 acres with a plastic mulch planted in 2009 gives far more and is doing much better. Lesson: if you plant fruit trees make sure they have 5 years WITHOUT ANY GRASS competition. Once the trees are mature they can tolerate some grass but will yield less.
 
Nathan Pickard
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Stefan Sobkowiak wrote:
Nathan Pickard wrote:Stephan. I enjoyed the movie very much. I was wondering whether you have ever let grass grow around your fruit tree and can talk about the difference in yield?

I planted another 1.5 acre block in 2008 the year after the block in the movie. I let grass grow around the trees. It's a disaster. Many trees are 4 feet high and covered in flowers. These trees should be 12 feet high. Yield is 10-20% of what they should be. A third block of 2 acres with a plastic mulch planted in 2009 gives far more and is doing much better. Lesson: if you plant fruit trees make sure they have 5 years WITHOUT ANY GRASS competition. Once the trees are mature they can tolerate some grass but will yield less.


Thank you. That is very helpful! I have another question. I noticed you put Dave Jackie's Food Forest book on your website. Have you done any work making orchards look more like patterns found in nature rather than straight rows? I was thinking of the Mandela (sp?) pattern for example.
 
Mike Haych
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Location: Eastern Canada, Zone 5a
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Nathan Pickard wrote:Thank you. That is very helpful! I have another question. I noticed you put Dave Jackie's Food Forest book on your website. Have you done any work making orchards look more like patterns found in nature rather than straight rows? I was thinking of the Mandela (sp?) pattern for example.


If you are looking to for an efficient layout rows make sense. Faster to harvest. Easier to apply foliar sprays. Easier to monitor for pests and disease. We have both rows and scattered plantings. The rows win over scattered plantings hands down. The scattered, "random" plantings are there as a counterpoint reminder to what Nature does when we're not in the picture. Very functional when I remember that thought. LOL

Permaculture mandalas seem to be highly stylized versions of natural patterns. While visually and perhaps emotionally appealing, it seems to me that there is little functional benefit to most of these designs and horticultural flaws in some of them.


 
Paul Ewing
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Stefan this may be answered when my DVD arrives, but how far around the trees do you mulch especially in the first year or three which seems to be the most important?
 
Hugo Deslippe
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He answered elsewhere saying that you need to prevent grass growing at least the with of the drip line or even better, the width of the mature tree's drip line.
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Nathan Pickard wrote:
Stefan Sobkowiak wrote:
Nathan Pickard wrote:Stephan. I enjoyed the movie very much. I was wondering whether you have ever let grass grow around your fruit tree and can talk about the difference in yield?

I planted another 1.5 acre block in 2008 the year after the block in the movie. I let grass grow around the trees. It's a disaster. Many trees are 4 feet high and covered in flowers. These trees should be 12 feet high. Yield is 10-20% of what they should be. A third block of 2 acres with a plastic mulch planted in 2009 gives far more and is doing much better. Lesson: if you plant fruit trees make sure they have 5 years WITHOUT ANY GRASS competition. Once the trees are mature they can tolerate some grass but will yield less.


Thank you. That is very helpful! I have another question. I noticed you put Dave Jackie's Food Forest book on your website. Have you done any work making orchards look more like patterns found in nature rather than straight rows? I was thinking of the Mandela (sp?) pattern for example.

Nathan we bought the orchard already planted. Ended up ripping out most of it. The infrastructure was still in place (irrigation, posts, wires, grassy lanes). We needed to move fast so we just kept the existing pattern. Simple, safe, efficient. When I look at trees in the forest I see lots of straight and parallel lines. Nature is not without straight lines it just depends what patterns your looking at. No I never tried a mandala, our smallest row has 35 trees, hard to fit that into a mandala.
Plus how do we ever expect mainstream fruit growers to adopt a permaculture approach by suggesting they HAVE to use mandala's. Let's give them a chance to get familiar with the approach. It's already a HUUUGGGEEE stretch for most of them to think of multiple species in their orchard. One step at a time.
 
Nathan Pickard
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That makes a lot of sense. I am showing your video to someone this weekend who is buying 12 acres and is very conventional. I think your video is the perfect thing to show him he can make more money by going your route while not straying so far away from a normal orchard that he thinks we are all crazy. I was just curious if you had experimented with it at all and good reasons against it from a practical standpoint.
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Nathan Pickard wrote:That makes a lot of sense. I am showing your video to someone this weekend who is buying 12 acres and is very conventional. I think your video is the perfect thing to show him he can make more money by going your route while not straying so far away from a normal orchard that he thinks we are all crazy. I was just curious if you had experimented with it at all and good reasons against it from a practical standpoint.

Nathan don't expect everyone to get all excited as you are about it. It take several exposure to such 'RADICAL' ideas as mixing a lot of species in an orchard,even though it is so logical and works well.
I never experimented with mandala's. If you can figure out an efficient way to use them on several acres I'm all ears. Remember we are WAY NORTH in Canada. Our limiting factor most of the year is sun. Most (all?) Mandala ideas are applied in tropical and subtropical areas where sun is not a limiting factor in fact mandala's help limit the sun's effect on the root zone of the trees.
 
Serge Leblanc
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Once the grass is well established & grown in, how do you apply the plasti mulch?
One row on each side of the fruit trees, cut where needed or fill in with other pieces in between ?
Wooden stakes hold it down un till chop & drop covers it?
 
Queenie Hankinson
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Stefan: I am curious. How can mainstream agriculture adopt a permaculture approach?

Permaculture mimics a natural ecosystem and by dint of that is seldom (never) a monoculture. First and foremost n any natural ecosystem is diversity ie not just fruit trees- but also beneficial perennials and other shrubs and trees and elements of succession.

Some permculturists grow fruit trees among other trees but rarely in mass numbers or in a sequestered row- due to the plants/trees being stressed from having to grow and produce at a faster rate and not having other plants to provide their needs and mitigate viral, bacterial and insect intrusion.

Monoculture encourages disease and stress as fruit trees (as well as most other plants ) on their own do not possess either the nutrients, minerals or beneficial organisms to enrich their soil to the standards they need to survive.

An immunosuppressed plant or tree is subject much more easily to viral/fungal or bacterial infection.

I do know of permaculturists who grow fruit in abundance though not on a scale to say, market one type in abundance and because they are diversified and grow more of a food forest, they use no sprays or fungicides or insecticides and have very little damage to their fruit crops. Even sepp holzer states that he offers fruit and vegetables for sale but can never guarantee a certain amount of crop due to how it is planted and cultivated by him.

Some say, that it is not possible to apply permaculture to the old paradigm of monocultures because monocultures by their very nature will require excluding natural beneficial elements and tend to intensify one crop to the exclusion of others. This renders each monoculture vulnerable and necessitates the use of sprays which are contraindicated in both organic and natural ecosystems and sprays are often not sustainable agriculture in that the things/methods needed primarily for success do not naturally occur (like foliar sprays and non grassy areas) and cannot naturally perpetuate themselves without continual cultivation and intervention by the grower.

Ultimately, a permacultured system should be able to reach climax and self perpetuate even if no humans are around to add to the system. Self sustaining indicates no outside manipulation once a system matures. Fruit trees grown amongst other species often grow and can even thrive in a diverse forest, even if abandoned for years by people--in that case the trees would indeed be permaculture and self sustaining.

I am curious how mainstream agriculture plans to adopt this new paradigm while still maintaining the tenets of the old.... (single, mass crops ) or will the meaning of sustainment and permaculture be changed to suit the modifications agriculture makes?
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Serge Leblanc wrote:Once the grass is well established & grown in, how do you apply the plasti mulch?
One row on each side of the fruit trees, cut where needed or fill in with other pieces in between ?
Wooden stakes hold it down un till chop & drop covers it?

Serge I explain the process visually in the film. Yes one row on each side and a slit where the tree is. We use rocks since stakes would just get in the way and make holes where we don't want. Rocks are abundant and simple. The mow and blow is not enough to hold it down you need weight, so rocks. Rock on!
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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