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Hackberry in Desert Food Forest

 
Celia Revel
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This past two weeks, I've been rounding up my resources, observing, planning, and preparing for starting a food forest on the southwest corner of the house. It gets hot and dry and temperatures soar past what the weather man says it should be for this part of the state, Central California. It is my desert microclimate even though I'm in a mediteranian climate overall. I have two pomegranates from seed (one year old) that I plopped in the ground, and watered, and have survived. I planted a row of hackberry next to the house for shade. This was easy because I have easy access to the sprouts from the momma tree on the northeast end. But I'm a little nervous about using any of the rest that will be used next to the palms, olive, and artichoke I plan to install. The area is on a gravel driveway, so I will be digging in for tree access and rely on the run off from the gravel to wash into the tree basins. The palms will be late in coming as I'm growing them from seed, so I wanted to shade the ground until then with hackberry because they grow so darned fast. I planted seedlings last year and they are about four feet tall now. Once the palms are in, I could cut down the hackberries. What about the olive, artichoke and pomegranate?

It's really hard to find a lot of information on hackberry. In gaia's garden it lists them as nurse trees, but I know they have a deadly affect on plants. Very little grows well around the momma hackberry tree except strawberries. I have strawberries and hackberries planted together in a pot and they are both doing quite nicely.

I'm putting together a theory, that hackberries do well around berries in general because they are both indigenous to each other.

Anyone have any information or links to hackberries in food forests or guilds?
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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I know Brad Lancaster mentions hackberries in his Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Vol 1. There are a few illustrations in the book that show hackberries as part of a guild. If you live in a dryland, this book and his second book - Vol 2 on Earthworks - are invaluable!

Kudos to you for making an awesome dryland planting area!

 
Zach Muller
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I have heard that currants make a good companion to hackberry.
Here is something I found
The little-known “walnut/hackberry guild” (a term from Tim
Murphy, permaculture garden designer, as reported in Gaia’s Garden: a Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, Second Edition, 2010) can recreate a natural-affinity plant group that can work in the garden for you, provided you have well-drained soil.
Here are juglone-tolerant shrubs and plants that you can set under/near your walnut: hackberry shrub, currants
(esp. with hackberries); the Russian Olive (a nitrogen-fixer) and its relative goumi (fruit); in
addition, wolfberry or goji berry (Lycium species), elderberries, hazelnut, crocus and daffodil. For more
info: www.missouri.edu/newsletters/meg/archives/v6n4/meg4.htm


I have a lot of hackberry where I live and have noticed that Tradescantia (spiderwort) grows very well even right next to a mature trunk. I would add mulberry as a companion to hackberry since they appear together all the time.

Celia Is the soil around your mother hackberry well drained? I ask because I have had pretty good luck growing things around hackberry and tree of heaven (another aleopath) and am wondering if it has to do with the drainage and slope of the land. I like your theory about the berries, and I think nature supports it to some extent when you look at wild strawberries under hackberry in the forests.

In my forest garden I have a 3 foot hackberry that I keep chopped back quite a bit, it is near strawberries, clover, cilantro, daffodils, basil, snowpeas, and asparagus. These things all seem to do ok so far.

Good luck on your desert food forest.
 
Celia Revel
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Jennifer, thanks for the info. I've got both books on order.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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No problemo! Those books are DENSE with information. I use them for reference books but have yet to read either of them cover-to-cover. The info in them is awesome though - tons and tons of research went into them and Brad has taught all over the world. geoff lawton uses Brad's books when he does dryland projects. And Brad is just a really nice, genuine guy.

His website is: http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/
He also works with an organization I'm involved with: http://watershedmg.org/
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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