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For Steve: Forest Farming Under Pine Canopy (?)

 
Christopher Sullivan
Posts: 3
Location: Beaverdam, Virginia (USDA Zone 7)
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Welcome, Steve! I was wondering what your thoughts are for forest farming applications in highly acidic soil. My property was mostly planted pine that we have logged out to turn into sustainable production, but we do have pine forest on the edges. We're currently using a good bit of that space for chickens, but is there possibly a better or other element I could produce in my piney treeline that won't require massive remediation of the soil? Blueberries, perhaps? Thanks for any help you could lend!

Christopher Sullivan
Liberty Creek Farm
www.facebook.com/libertycreekfarm
Beaverdam, Virginia
 
Simon Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 194
Location: S Ontario, Zone 6/7
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I am also interested in this. Where I am staying right now, there is a large pine plantation about 30 years old. It needs a lot of thinning out which we are working on, but I wonder if there are any techniques we could use in thinning that would allow for more production? Maybe cutting out clearings or something of the sort? Any thoughts would be great.
 
Kim Hill
Posts: 78
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Great question. I too am looking at an area high in pine trees. As another part of the question, if the pines are harvested can the soil be slowly turned back into a more neutral pH so any kind of tree can be planted. I am most interested in fruit, nut and syrup trees and would like to be able to replace the current pines. Thanks looking forward to reading the book. Kim
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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me too! I am in a Bishop Pine forest. I don't have any questions to add but am interested in the answers.
 
matt hogan
Posts: 71
Location: Tennesse, an hour west of Nashville, zone 7
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chicken hunting
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Great question. I'm anxious to see what Steve has to say.

Some thoughts:
1. Pines can be allelopathic. How would that affect other acid-loving plants like blueberry?
2. You can grow some mushrooms (e.g. Phoenix Oyster)
3. Could choosing the species of pine help? Including some nut pines?
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I know at least for Bishop Pines or the forest where I live we have many other trees mixed in with them and many plants seem to grow fine around them. I have not tried blueberries yet but we have an abundance of huckleberries. I have had a lot of trouble getting bean seeds to germinate and I wonder if that is related to the pines or not. I suspect that something is digging them up and eating them, that happened with almost every cucurbit I tried then suddenly a gourd seed managed to sprout and it is the biggest healthiest plant I have right next to a pine tree, in fact it is climbing the pine tree.
 
Christopher Sullivan
Posts: 3
Location: Beaverdam, Virginia (USDA Zone 7)
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Just to give a bit of clarification about my original post, my land had been planted pine for timber that was never properly thinned and was instead sold off to developers. It's pretty densely wooded with spindly pine. The only diversity is whatever fledgling hardwoods and bramble (and poison ivy!) can make it. I'm glad I appear not to be the only one with this question!
 
Steve Gabriel
Posts: 27
Location: New York
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Great question!

You should know...your spindly pine forest makes me a bit jealous! Pine plantations that have gone a bit feral make the PERFECT laying yard for shiitake, oyster, and other log grown mushrooms. One of the best benefits is the year-round shade factor, which means you can keep your logs healthy and happy. We've even had Stropharia fruit in pine straw! for more see the factsheets at http://mushrooms.cals.cornell.edu
...oh yeah, and the book!

Speaking of Pine straw, this is another interesting "crop" that I saw in action at the University of Missouri Agroforestry site. We mention it in the book briefly. The straw is harvested in 7 - 10 year rotations, which appears to be renewable from their research. LINK: http://agebb.missouri.edu/agforest/archives/v13n2/gh6.htm

Finally, I leave you with a question. What is found in natural pine stands that is edible? Medicinal? Functional? How can you shape the succession to increase diversity. Pine is usually mixed in stands with other tree like Oak, Hickory, etc etc.

Some food for thought.

cheers
Steve
 
Craig Hutchinson
Posts: 3
Location: South Island, New Zealand, humid temperate cool zone 7
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2 years ago I purchased a 15yr old pinus radiata plantation (New Zealand South Island high country - humid cool temperate zone 7) which I'm progressively converting into a food forest. Interestingly, the pH is not too low (6 - 6.4) even though there is a heavy pine needle mulch.

I have found the following have done well with good crops and strong flavour. Berries e.g. strawberry, cranberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, gooseberry, currents (red, black, white). Shallots have done very well. Sunchokes on the edge OK.

I've also planted hazelnuts into areas where the pine was felled and they seem to be growing well as have the stone fruit (apricot, peach, nectarine), though the trees are too young to have produced nuts/fruit.

In the spirit of trying anything last season I tried potatoes (two varieties, and early and a main) and both varieties produced a smaller quantity per plant (4-5) but they were far bigger than the same varieties grown in my garden (ever) - 150mm - 200mm x 100mm and they taste really good.

If you're looking for something to grow up a pine, I'm trying wisteria (from the Fabaceae family) which seems to be doing well. Not edible but the chickens love the flower petals when the drop in the autumn. And it produces plenty of mulch. And of course being a nitrogen fixer it helps replenish some of the nitrogen being sucked up.

Failed: sunflowers, brassicas.
 
Christopher Sullivan
Posts: 3
Location: Beaverdam, Virginia (USDA Zone 7)
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Awesome! Thanks Steve and Craig! I had never thought much would be possible in my low-quality pine canopy aside from ranging some meat birds. I appreciate the suggestions!
 
Craig Hutchinson
Posts: 3
Location: South Island, New Zealand, humid temperate cool zone 7
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Hi Steve. Would oyster and shitake do OK on pinus radiata? I've been told not. Maybe I should just experiment?
Cheers
Craig
 
Mat Smith
Posts: 124
Location: Gold Coast Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Craig Hutchinson wrote:Hi Steve. Would oyster and shitake do OK on pinus radiata? I've been told not. Maybe I should just experiment?
Cheers
Craig

A definite NO to shitake.
I have grown White oysters on cypress pine mulch, but yielded low and not worth the effort for me.
 
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