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Restoration Ag: Mass Selection

 
William James
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I have recently read Mark Shepard's Restoration Agriculture and it's a really great book, even if a little light on specifics.

When one mass selects for trees, I'm assuming the trees are planted in line and the soil modified for good growth. When certain plants do show good growth, do you transplant out or just leave them in place?

Wouldn't that screw up your spacing a little if you're working with various species? You'd then have lines of this and that.

Thanks,
William
 
Adrien Lapointe
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There are many ways to do this.

I think Mark plants trees way too close together and thin the ones that do not perform. I am sure in some cases he ends up with not perfect spacing, but that is not really a big issue.
 
William James
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I suppose if you're on 106 acres, you can plop down 100 plants tightly spaced anywhere you please. If you end up getting one, it's not going to be crowding anything. Although, I did see plants spaced out along contour in a pic of his.

I guess my question is how would you apply the strategy of mass selection on 3 acres, not 100+.

William
 
Paul Ewing
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I have been discussing this with Mark since I was at one of his workshops last year. His view is what Adrien said. Plant lots of tress and then go from there. I was talking to him about planting nut trees 20 feet apart interspersed with smaller fruit trees ever 5-7 feet or so. He said that was way to far apart. I should be planting every two feet apart and plan to use most of them for fodder, bio-fuel, or mulch later on. The way to do this is to buy from wholesale nurseries and the state nurseries or grow your own. You can get trees in bulk (100-500 of a kind) for 30 to 50 cents each. Three acres would be many tens of thousands of trees so you should have a good selection to choose from for the best trees.
 
William James
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I looked into the state nurseries here.

$1.64 for a year old seedling
$2.91 for a 11-22 inch sapling
$3.41 for a 23-31 inch sapling
$3.96 for anything over 31 inches.

Looks like making my own cuttings just got a hellavalot more economic.
Maybe in bulk the price for the seedlings could go down a little, but I doubt under a buck.
W
 
Paul Ewing
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I didn't see you were in Europe. That probably bumps the price up a lot because the generally higher prices.

I order from these states(all prices figured using best break, usually 100+ including shipping charges prorated per tree): Oklahoma $0.44, Missouri $0.39, Tennessee $0.58, Arbor Day $0.84. I haven't used Arbor Day yet, but they have some that I wanted but weren't in stock at the states like thornless honey locust and a different hazelnut variety. I didn't get around to ordering from them though.
 
R Scott
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He also believes in STUN (his trademark, I believe) Shear Total Utter Neglect.

He keylines for water management, but doesn't amend the soil. He wants to select based on performing without inputs.
 
William James
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R Scott wrote:
He keylines for water management, but doesn't amend the soil. He wants to select based on performing without inputs.


That's a good idea.
Plowing or tilling before 'seeding' the small plants or just a hoe?

I'm planing on amending and light tilling, just because I've noticed things go much better that way in my soil and it's the least I can do to give them a good start.
There is little to no biomass in the soil and it's heavy, compacted clay. I think wisconsin soils are either sandy the more north you go and more loam the more south. I think he might have much better soil to start with than me.

Plus, I'd be selecting for drought tolerance. Giving little to no water in the first year, so whatever I can do soil-wise might be worth it.
W
 
William James
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What about planting a cover crop for weed control? I'm thinking that the new growth might be too short to compete with, say, clover or mustard or a cover crop mix. But growing among them and having the ground shaded and weed controlled by them might be helpful.
William
 
R Scott
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I am a huge fan of a short clover ground cover, planted THICK, along with short taproots like chicory, dandelion, plaintain, etc.

Work out your companion planting/guilds and go to town.

Here is Darren Doherty's approach, a little more input than Mark but still fairly low cost:



I am a huge fan of the keyline plow/subsoiler for making one rip to loosen the dirt where you are planting. You can use a broadfork on smaller areas, working the ground that will be the dripline of the tree for the first year or two--but not nearly as fast a a keyline if you have the machine to do it.

I do one rip line on contour in two passes--one to break my hardpan at 8-12 inches and a second as deep as the machine will go. That makes a loose bed to dibble starts into, or easy digging. I put a scoop of good compost on each side of the sapling into the rip line and water it in with diluted compost tea.
 
William James
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R Scott wrote:short clover ground cover, planted THICK, along with short taproots like chicory, dandelion, plaintain, etc.


Are we talking about short as in 'dwarf clover' ususally used in lawns, or are we talking about something approaching the size of trifolium repens/Dutch clover.

I have Dutch clover so I'm hoping you'll say that one! hhehe

My generic cover crop mix (pretty low growing) should work with the added dutch clover, maybe planted later in the season, so the saplings have a head start before they get submerged with clover.
W
 
Frank Brentwood
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Paul Ewing wrote:
I order from these states(all prices figured using best break, usually 100+ including shipping charges prorated per tree): Oklahoma $0.44, Missouri $0.39, Tennessee $0.58, Arbor Day $0.84. I haven't used Arbor Day yet, but they have some that I wanted but weren't in stock at the states like thornless honey locust and a different hazelnut variety. I didn't get around to ordering from them though.


Paul,

Could you provide links and/or contact info for those sources?
 
Dan Grubbs
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Frank, here's the website for the Missouri nursery:

http://mdc.mo.gov/your-property/seedling-orders-and-planting-guide/seedling-order-how

This is where I buy my trees and have had very good luck. I've not had good luck with Arbor Day Foundation, but I know others have. Though Missouri is a large state, I do like knowing I'm planting many of my trees that are/were native to Missouri and I know I get that from the Missouri nursery. So far everything is hardy to my area of northwest Missouri that I've ordered from them.
 
R Scott
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William James wrote:
R Scott wrote:short clover ground cover, planted THICK, along with short taproots like chicory, dandelion, plaintain, etc.


Are we talking about short as in 'dwarf clover' ususally used in lawns, or are we talking about something approaching the size of trifolium repens/Dutch clover.

I have Dutch clover so I'm hoping you'll say that one! hhehe

My generic cover crop mix (pretty low growing) should work with the added dutch clover, maybe planted later in the season, so the saplings have a head start before they get submerged with clover.
W


Just plain white Dutch. Anything that tops out under a foot tall is pretty easy for the saplings to get above. One flake of hay or big scoop full of mulch would keep plenty of space around the saplings for under 10 cents per tree.

 
Cj Sloane
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Frank Brentwood wrote:
Could you provide links and/or contact info for those sources?


My favorite is http://www.coldstreamfarm.net/default.aspx
 
Cj Sloane
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William James wrote:
Looks like making my own cuttings just got a hellavalot more economic.


Yes. Also I'm not sure if I missed the part about what kind of trees you were going to plant but some are fine from seed. 1000 black locust seeds for $15. 100 thornless Honey locust for about the same.

If you can plant a good variety of species that will grow from cutting, buying a few dozen to establish your parent stock makes sense.
 
Jamie Wallace
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R Scott wrote:I am a huge fan of a short clover ground cover, planted THICK, along with short taproots like chicory, dandelion, plaintain, etc.

Work out your companion planting/guilds and go to town....

I am a huge fan of the keyline plow/subsoiler for making one rip to loosen the dirt where you are planting. You can use a broadfork on smaller areas, working the ground that will be the dripline of the tree for the first year or two--but not nearly as fast a a keyline if you have the machine to do it.

I do one rip line on contour in two passes--one to break my hardpan at 8-12 inches and a second as deep as the machine will go. That makes a loose bed to dibble starts into, or easy digging. I put a scoop of good compost on each side of the sapling into the rip line and water it in with diluted compost tea.


Excellent idea R.Scott...new to keyline but I can see it having some excellent uses.
 
Paul Ewing
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What I do to find the State Nurseries is Google the state name +forestry +seedlings which will most likely get you to the right place. Start with your state then work around it and try to stay in a similar climate zone. If you know what trees you want, you can start looking further afield to find ones. Most start taking orders around September to November. Some states like Tennessee don't start taking out of state orders for another month or two after they open to in state orders. The trees will be shipped from January to May depending on the states and many will let you request the best time. If you want some of the popular or unique things it is best to order early since many states sell out in a few months on some things.

There are also some commercial seeding sources with similar pricing. I haven't tried them, but I probably will order from some this fall.

Musser Forests is in Pennsylvania but has lots of trees that grow here. When you get to the 50 to 100+ levels the prices are very reasonable for mass plantings.

Lawyer Nursery is more of a pure wholesale source. During the season they have a lot of fruit trees as well as "ornamentals" that would be great in permaculture settings. They also have decent pricing on Antanovka Apple rootstock.

 
edwin hugel
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I'm about a year late to this thread but...

We are using our own variation of Mark's mass planting STUN system in middle Tennessee. In one area we have planted with swales or berms and basins and in another with brush berms. The land was logged so we have done random planting of natives in other areas as well. The distance between the trees is about 2 feet apart, sometimes closer. We are also using it to create enosculated fedges, hedges, living fences by planting even closer. We have planted over 3500 bareroot trees and shrubs this way using the same quick method that is used by foresters and have gotten pretty dang fast at it!

If you want to find inexpensive bareroot whips and seedlings look to Warren County/ McMinnville, TN "the tree nursery capital of the world" as they call it. There are over 300 nurseries there, some good some not so good as we are discovering. 12inch bareroot seedlings average around .60 cents each. The more you buy the cheaper it gets.

We bought from our state nursery this year as well for the first time and I'm impressed so far. When we picked up our bareroot trees we got to see the seed orchards that were planted in the 1950s and 1960s which was pretty cool.

Warren County TN nurseries have a terrible, incomplete website but here it is anyway:
http://www.tnnursery.com/

The highest berm and basin system we have (top of the hill) is pictured below right after it was made and planted. You can kinda see how close the plantings are for the hedge here (mainly hawthorn, mimosa, bush clover and some plum and crab apple). To the left there are some more berm/basins. This is all on the top of the hill to slow the runoff on this huge surface area and sink it before it really starts to slope off. Then below that, out of frame on the hillside, there are 3 long swales wrapping around the contour of the sloped hill with mass plantings.



Sorting trees for planting, Spring 2015:



 
Joseph Lofthouse
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The term "cuttings" was mentioned a couple of times in this thread... Cuttings are clones, therefore are not suitable for use in "mass selection" plant breeding. Mass selection should be done with seedlings grown from pollinated seeds. If buying from commercial sources, it would be good to ask if the trees were grown from cuttings or from seeds.



 
Steve Farmer
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I was going to say something similar to what Joseph just said. I usually grow from seed except for hybrid poplars (which don't produce seed) and figs and blackberries (which both do great even in arid zones from cuttings).

Further to Joseph's point about cuttings being clones and therefore of little benefit in terms of natural selection, you mentioned you were selecting for drought tolerance and not intending to give much/any water in the first year. I've got two responses to that

1) Don't. A drought tolerant species of tree will not be drought tolerant in its first year. You cannot select this attribute of a mature tree by killing all the young trees.
2) If you are going low water then don't use cuttings. They don't produce as good root systems as trees grown from seeds.

apart from the qualities of cuttings vs seeds, if you are looking to grow densely on 3 acres and concerned about costs per tree over a dollar each then from a cost point of view you need to be growing from seed. It might seem that by planting a 3 foot long stick you are getting a 3 foot head start over a seed. Yes you are getting a head start but you are only planting a stick, not a tree. It's a quick start but the seed will usually give a healthier faster growing tree that overtakes the cutting after less than a year. The reason nurseries sell you a stick in a pot is cos it's basically getting money for nothing, not cos its a good idea for the customer.
 
William James
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Thanks for that...

You've basically confirmed a few thoughts I've been having lately.

1) I don't have time to start a nursery and get tons of plants growing from seed. Tried that, didn't work. Working with seed-balls might be an option which I'm looking into doing..
2) I probably shouldn't complain about 2-3 dollar trees since I'm not willing to do the work to get it done by myself.
3) I need to find a nursery to work in collaboration with so I can solve my plant material problems for the long term.

William
 
Steve Farmer
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Have you seen Kostas' reforestation thread?
http://www.permies.com/t/14353/plants/Reforestation-Growing-Trees-Arid-barren

He and others have had impressive success from simply scattering seeds with no further nursery type operations to look after the young trees. A shotgun approach where the time saved by not nurturing anything outweighs the losses due seeds that don't make it to maturity.

My own experience is a little different due to low rainfall, high temps and browsing animals. I could scatter 1000 seeds and most likely end up with zero trees. I have to protect my trees and I find it most time efficient to use my garden where I am close at hand and have water available to get the trees thru their first few months before planting out at the desert plot. Your experience at your location will probably be a closer match to Kostas' than to mine. His thread is excellent and really goes into detail about aims which closely overlap yours.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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