I stumbled upon permaculture and hugelkultur recently and am quickly becoming obsessed with the idea of growing food for my family and friends!
My wife and two sons (4 and 2) moved into a rather large urban property (about 1/2 an acre) and inherited a lot of plants and trees...the bonus was 4 pear tree, 3 appletrees, and a cherry tree.
I built some raised beds this year and tried various veggies just to see what would happen...tomatoes, snap peas, green beans, peppers, kale, leaf lettuce, brocolli, and spinach. We have a lot of existing pine and birch trees on the property as well, so there tends to be a lot of shade during the day where the existing garden bed was located...I put the leafy greens here.
Anyways, my plan is to build a permaculture garden around an existing apple tree...not sure if this is smart. It is a circular area, all grass right now, and it in surrounded by really tall pines/spruces. it gets decent sun during the day, aside from the apple tree canopy that exists (we plan on trimming it back this fall).
So here are my questions...
1. What are the best perennial crops to grow in Southwestern Ontario? Especially things that may not get a lot of sun? I figure shade plants would be best closer to the apple tree, and some sun plants outside the leaf line.
Of course you should consider annuals. If you let them go to seed, they may reseed every year until you think they were perennials. My garden is like that with the arugula and mustard, I don't have to bother reseeding them any more. Now if I could just get them to crowd out the bindweed and cudweed......
Blueberries are a good crop for shady spaces. Maybe try a couple of them near the apples.
Thanks for the help - all of the videos I have seen of permaculture being used typically has perennials...i plan on planting tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, etc. every year....I put in asparagus and leafy greens in the hopes they come back...does kale, leaf lettuce, and spinach go to seed in the fall?
I'm a bad person to ask about what goes to seed when in the Far North. My spinach is already burnt to a crisp and the lettuce is past flowering and into the seed pod stage, same with the kale. I suppose the permies further north are too busy gardening to be posting to this thread, but maybe when they take a break over the weekend.
Hi Justin, great to hear from someone from Sarnia (my home town) on this forum.
An understory of berry bushes, such as honeyberry, gooseberry, and perhaps blueberry (still testing that theory) should do ok, though they may not yield as much in the shade. Ground covers of strawberry, mints, clovers, and of course COMFREY (go with bocking 14) will yield well and contribute to overall guild fertility. Plant some bulbs such as garlic and onions throughout to tap into the root zone, and some daffodils and chives on the borders where you need to fend off grass or other invaders. Mix it up, but plant in bunches if you want to keep it a bit more orderly and easier to harvest, especially if you are mixing perennials and annuals (where you are more likely to disturb the soil for harvesting and sheet mulching.). Some nasturtium planted near the trunk or trained up some low-hanging limbs will add some nice colour and is a worthy salad addition (peppery, like a mild Rocket).
For non-edibles, bleeding hearts, ferns, hostas, astilbes, and columbine will do well as understory cover if you need some variety or space fillers.
Thank you Cory! I am hoping to stumble upon some Sarnians who share my interest!
Where can I get Comfrey? I cant seem to locate a seller near by...also, here is what I was planning for the front:
I have some asparagus already set along what will be the north border
a berry as the understory...just undecided as to what
likely some strawberries/raspberries in the mix throughout
good king henry
then perhaps comfrey?
Ideally, this area will be all perennials. The apple tree has ZERO apples this year, and a lot of dead branches...I am concerned about it. The idea will be to trim it way back...the old owners let it go wild and it is quite overgrown.
I am still learning about companion planting, and will likely add nasturtiums...The garden build wont be until the fall, so likely planting wont happen until the spring.
Simultaneously, we are putting in some hugelkultur raised beds in the back, for our annuals...lots of time to plan and choose plants for both.
Justin, sounds good.
regarding your apple tree, my girlfriend had plum and cherry trees in her yard that had never fruited after several years. I pointed out the fact that they were growing in grass, which will compete heavily for water and nutrients with the root zone of most fruit trees. I sheet mulched them last spring and started planting some guilds around them and they all fruited later that summer. Your situation may differ, as you have an old tree in need of revitalization, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
I get my comfrey online from a place near Lindsey, ON called Richters Herbs, http://www.richters.com/. However, they had a comfrey crop failure last year (no idea how - this is one tough plant) and it's now listed as DISCONTINUED. They told me a few months ago they expect to have comfrey back on the menu next year. This set me back a bit, as well, as I've had to resort to propagating the few I have established. I'm overdue in my plan this season to divide a plant or two for further propagation. If you're interested, I can send you a few root cuttings to get you started - they're the sterile Bocking 14 variety, so you don't have to worry about them spreading by seed. As luck would have it, I'm visiting my parents in Sarnia this weekend, so I can even drop them off at your door. PM me with your contact info if you're interested.
He Justin If you'd like to come out to our place, I can give you some divisions of some of the stuff I have. I have plans to fine tune my Permaculture Nursery set up...then I'll have all kinds of stuff. email me email@example.com. and we'll get together. If your kids are young they'll love it here right now. we have baby turkeys baby ducks and baby chickens not to mention puppies. check out our (still under construction website for more details. wildeturtleisland.ca
Wilde on Turtle Island
Walk Gently on our Mother Earth