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Reforestation - Growing trees in arid, barren lands - Almond trees - Apricot trees  RSS feed

 
Abe Connally
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I have my doubts that they will sprout in the spring, because winter/spring is our dry season. The ground is moist in the fall, but by May, it is very dry.

I think they will probably wait until July-August to sprout, when there is rain. Our climate is really very different. It goes Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall. July-September is cooler than April-June, and that's when things sprout and grow. Even the trees wait until May or June to put out leaves.

So, I will try and find some almonds, and put them in the ground, and see what happens. I don't mind watering a few trees to get them established, but I can't water many, as we are on rain catchment. It would be a lot better if they could sprout and grown on their own.

I have tried peaches before with mixed results. A few sprouted, most didn't, but I am not sure how good the seed was.

I also have been savings a lot of plum seeds from our current trees, as they produce and grow well in our climate without irrigation. I have close to a hundred plum seeds. I would love to get them going in the same way. I may try a few of the plums in pots, too, because our current plum was transplanted from a nursery, yet it is still healthy and thrives, even without irrigation.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Sounds good Abe,
Both plums and almonds should do well without watering - just put the stones in the ground - they will know when to sprout - the almonds are prone to be eaten by mice or squirrels - keep an eye out for this - plums and apricots do not have the same problem (I think - we will see).

When I seed an area, I use a hoe with a pointed front (not square), so the seeds are placed in the ground without having to bend down - its important if you want to do this 1000 times in day.

Kostas
 
Abe Connally
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I'm going to the city this week, so I will try to find some almond seed. I have seen them raw in a lot of places in Mexico, but most of the time, they don't have the shells. Does that still work?

I won't be planting 1000s to start with, maybe 100 over several weeks.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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No - most likely if they are not in the shell, they are sprayed and do not germinate well - I learned the hard way.
Its important to have good seeds to work with - do not waste your time with questionable materials. The same applies with apricots plums etc.
Apricots bought from the supermarket are not acceptable, because they are usually picked early (before their time) consequently the seeds may not germinate well or at all.

Please keep us informed.

Kostas
 
jacqueline smit
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Hello Kostas and all others,

I'm really inspired by his topic and I can't believe that I didn't think of it........ We are Dutch and moved from Holland to "the Altiplano the Granada" in Andalusia Spain. We start to adapt to the culture and climate and we recently "got" into permaculture and trying to transform our olive orchard (with some other fruit trees like: almonds, apples, pears, figs, walnuts) into a food forest and kitchen garden with lots of culinary and medicinal herbs; a real chalenge. Although the computer said we are in zone 9......the altitude is 850M. So we have dry and very hot summers and winters with freezing temperatures during the night and sometimes +20C during daytime. This year it rains more than last year (YES, we are so grateful )
Our soil is about the same as you described Kostas.....so not easy and our budget is limited right now, but almond seed planting is great, as we have lots from our neighbors......
On the local farmers market we can get plum seeds and probably apricots and nectarines.
So thank you for the inspiration; we start tomorrow!!!
We also would like to know if the hard shell of the almond must be removed before planting, so they can sprout more easy?

Best wishes, Jacqueline and Heine
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thanks - its nice to hear from you.

No - do not break the almond shell - just bury it in the ground - 4 - 5 cm deep, and mentioned before, monitor the area for signs of mice or squirrel theft.

I am very excited about your future there - you can turn the land into the garden of Eden - heaven on earth, if you so desire - its possible.

You may want to read (if you have not already) the "Natural Way Of Farming - The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy" by Masanobu Fukuoka San - it has extensive discussion on how to improve the soil.

Kostas
 
jacqueline smit
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Thank's for the tip Kostas. I saw lots of video's online, but haven't read a book yet.
And we keep you posted!

Regards, Jacqueline
 
George Nellas
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Hello. This is another avid "almond seeder" from Greece.
I've sown almond stones in the wild, as a test, and had pretty good success in the past.
I have a small hillside field in western Fthiodida, at 320m elevation, south facing. Very hot during summer, without any rain, but with lots of rain in the winter. Last October I started putting all kinds of seeds in to the ground, after digging two large contour swales. Mailnly almonds (taken from beneath a mature tree), but also, chestnuts, apricots, apples, plums, and many, many other perenials. My own experience in this particular place was frustrating because field mice ate most of the seeds! I had to come back and re-seed in order to maximize the survival rate of the seeds. I did 3 rounds of seeding (one every month) and in this way I had very good success, especially with almonds. I have most of them under cictern-gravity-fed irrigation, but there were some that sprouted outside the irrigated area. The irrigated almond seedlings are now about 70 cm tall, the non-irrigated are shorter, about 30 cm, both doing absolutelly fine. In the middle of the (very hot and dry) summer, the non-irrigated ones seemed for a while that they were going to die, but they only went "dormant" only to grow new leaves later under the autumn rains, and are doing fine now.
This autumn I went back and did another round of seeding with every kind of seed imaginable, from almonds to chestnuts to rocket to asparagus. I can tell you, almond seedlings are VERY resilient. Some were even eaten by sheep, then they undergone a very severely dry and hot summer, seemed dead, but survived and now are green again.
The pictures show an almond seedling and an apple seedling under irrigation (not much, just 3 mins of gravity fed water from a cistern every week, in the summer months. Still working at it, still learning.
P311012_09.17.jpg
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almond seedling 1 year old
P281112_10.58.jpg
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apple seedling 7 months old
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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This is good news George - Thanks for the info - do the field mice eat the apricot and plum stones/seeds or just the almonds?
Kostas
 
George Nellas
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Hello Kostas
The mice seem to prefer mostly the chestnuts, almonds, wallnuts and hazelnuts. (no wander!) Not much for apricots or peaches or plum. I had to devise a couple of speciall methods to come around this problem, in order to be able to seed trees on the spot, but -I think- they are a bit too much time and energy intensive for this reforestation project topic. After all I'm building (or trying to build) a food forest up there. But my advice is to do it over and over again. Repeat the cycle during the same year, and if unsuccessfull, repeat it next year. And put 2 or 3 almonds on each spot. Of all, almonds and plums (greek "koromila") have the best survival rates in my area and are very dry tollerant.
One other good idea is to go around in your area and find what (wild) trees grow naturally on rainfall alone. Chances are that you can find (for some of them), their counterpart cultivated varieties (bearing fruits) that you could seed successfully. You can even graft them later on. Otherwise, if you're not looking for food trees, use wild seeds from around your area. But again, almonds are a very good candidate for reforestation and could be used as a food crop too.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank You George, I have a few questions.
What elevation are at ? Koromila (wild plums) are a high elevation tree (mountain tree) is this correct ?
Do they germinate at high rates and survive without watering or care ? what is your experience ?

I planted a lot of them this year, at elevations varying from 250 meters to 1100 meters to see how they respond.

Do you know of any other trees that you can suggest that will grow by seed without any care and at high germination rates. It does not matter whether the
trees are wild or edible, garden or forest - I learned from Fukuoka San not to discriminate between the two - the farm and the forest are one and the same.

Have you tried putting Cactus leaves in the ground - they survive without watering also. During the wintertime bury a leave 90% into the ground and it will survive and grow - you need to use a variety that grows in your area. Some varieties are not frost tolerant while others are.

We may need to plant the stones/seeds of trees preferred by the mice (almonds etc), just before they are ready to sprout, in other words mid January as opposed to October, maybe we can even soak them in water so they are ready to sprout when they are put in the ground, or we may end up using some sort of a powder such cayenne pepper to repel the mice - what do you think - any other ideas.

Its been my experience that you need to go back to an area 2, 3 or even 4 times and plant seeds before trees become established in an area. This is to be expected - it may take 10 to 15 years before a barren area is provided with ground cover.

I know the Peloponnese area which was almost burned down in 2008 has been ravaged by mankind in the last 2500 years repeatedly. I know the area outside of Sparta was covered by an oak forest - its about 99% gone. What took 2500 years to destroy by fire and grazing cannot be expected to recover instantly - it will take patience and persistence.


Thank You
Kostas
 
George Nellas
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Hello Kostas
1. About wild plums we are at 300 - 350 meters above sea level and our village is full of this tree. They can sprout and grow but mostly near or around irrigation ditches or inside stream banks, in the wild. I'm using irrigation on my own field. Next year I will have more evidence about them growing and surviving on their own.
2. I've had some good success with wild pear (pyrus amygdaloformis - greek "gortsia"). I planted last autumn 2 seeds and they sprouted and survived the summer without watering, even though it's a very slow growing tree. You don't have to take my word on this, just watch what trees in your area propagate all by themselves in the wild, without any care. For example, in my area we have large forests of wild oaks, as a top canopy of the forest. Inside them we find interspersed, wild pistachio, wild pears, Judas' tree (Ceris siliquastrum, greek "koutsoupia"), Quercus coccifera, wild asparagus and others. Near or inside water ditches or streams or rivers we have Platanus, wild figs, Populus, wild plums, wild roses, wild (edible) blackberries, grapes, and many, many others. All these are propagated by the birds or small animals, and live happily withour our care. We also have large fields of olives and some almonds, without any irrigation. So my answer is you have to observe and experiment.
3. You are right about cultivated and wild trees, they are all part or the ecosystem, so both deserve our help.
4. My area is too cold for the edible fruit cactus (prickly pear), allthough we absolutely love the fruit. Tried twice to plant the leaves, only to find them destroyed by the extreme cold of the winter. These need a more mild winter. I know there are some other more cold tollerant varieties, but i'm not sure about the taste of the fruit they produce. They worth a try for reforestation purposes in south facing places.
5. One of the methods I used is at the beginning of winter, to take plastic bags, fill them with compost, and put inside the tree seeds. Then I water them and leave them outside half open, to get the winter chill. I monitor them regularly in order to make sure the compost is damp and to watch for sprouting. In the spring, as soon as I see them having sprouted, (lets say 5-8 cm of taproot) I take them out and plant them directrly in the ground. This way they grow out and get established before the mice have a chance to eat them. Timing is of the essence here because you want to plant them just the right time, just when they start to grow their upward seedling shoot. The seedling shoots very fast, as well as the taproot, the seed becomes root, so it is not touched by the mice.
6. One other problem you'll have to deal with, is wild or domestical animals eating the seedlings. Don't underestimate that one!
It is my belief that all this is a worthwile effort. If we observe and experiment like this we can regreen large areas with very little effort.
George
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thanks George, lots good information.

You should be able to grow cactus pears where you are at . There is a variety growing in the Thessaloniki region that is somewhat frost/cold tolerant. The variety that grows in the Peloponnese region does not survive the cold of Thessaloniki - the variety growing in Thessaloniki has smaller fruits and leaves, but they both taste good - the people in Mexico eat the leaves (nopales) of Cactus pears - I tried them - they taste good. Its a good plant that requires no care, and can be useful for reforestation purposes due to its ease of planting - it also provides food for animals and people - and may also act as a fire barrier and for protection from animals and people around a property/farm.

It is my belief that all this is a worthwile effort. If we observe and experiment like this we can regreen large areas with very little effort.


You are absolutely right.

We need about ten different trees that will have the characteristics of almond trees, so with do not plant a mono-culture. The cost of reforestation should be inexpensive - less than 5 cents per tree if paid labor is used, or close to free if volunteers are available. its doable.

The trees chosen should have more than 60% survival rate.

Wild pears are interesting - I would like to see how many survive the August sun next summer.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Here are some interesting numbers - I bought some almonds at the local farmers market at 2.50 euros per kilogram (around $2 per kilogram).

The variety I bought has 350 almonds per kilogram - depending on the variety this number will most likely be lower - the ones I bought were on the small side and small in weight.

Translating this - 1 euro buys 140 almonds, or

That's pretty cheap reforestation.

Someone can put 250 almonds (or other suitable seeds) in a small bag, walk 2 kilometers from a road and plant them in a couple hours, and be done. Compare this with having to hand carry 250 small trees, 2 kilometers, then go back all summer to water them. The cost of the almonds is less than 2 euros - the costs of buying carrying and caring of small trees is !!! a lot I am sure - possibly cost prohibitive in these times of man made economic crises.

Kostas
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Rains stop in late April - early May and sometimes do not return until early October
...
We have experienced a severe drought this summer here with both lack of rain and high temperatures.


Same here!
The Canaries' tradition is to sow bitter almonds and then graft them with sweet ones or apricots etc.
The bitter almond resists drought better.

Here we only have real row almonds with no treatments.

The black mulberry and fig resisted the drought period too.

I will look for some pics that I have, about sowing directly and bring some protection / help to the seedlings with some plastic bottles.

I also know the hydraulic lift, and it also works, I think, with broom. I have it naturally, a white flower variety. I would love to have mesquite and edible oaks!

I intend to sow some wild olive tree seeds or plant some seedlings. They root better than olive trees from cuttings, and are able to look for a way between stones. My stones here have a lot of cracks!
 
S Bengi
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If by some miraculous way you were to get some extra funding, IMPRINTING is the best way to do it.
http://www.imprinting.org/success_stories.htm

I am here thinking of a list of mediterranean plants.

the mint family
the prunus family
the date/palm family
the legume family
Pomegranate
Fig also seem to be common.

Could you share the list of plants that you are already considering.



 
Xisca Nicolas
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The palm family does not grow with a waterproof layer.
it either needs sand and going down to the water level (as in oasis)

or

it needs a rocky soil with slots and cracks (as in the Canary and the Canary palm).
They the growing tree is lucky or not, according to where it germinated!

The taproot is impressive.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Crataegus azarolus can be an option...
I have one that I bought.
It needs no wind if you want to harvest the fruits.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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I have good "GREAT" news !!!
This fall I planted about 5,000 to 6,000 seeds in the ground, as we have previously discussed in this forum - they were placed at 6 different locations - elevations ranging from 250 to 1100 meters. And locations from Northern to Southern Greece. Today I went to examine a location in Northern Greece at 280 meters elevation - the winter has been mild with low to moderate rainfall in the area. I have enclosed pictures.
1.jpg
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Almond tree Sprouted
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Picture 2 is an almond that has only sprouted underground
Kostas
2.jpg
[Thumbnail for 2.jpg]
Almond underground
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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The 3rd picture looks like an apricot tree - also underground
Kostas
3.jpg
[Thumbnail for 3.jpg]
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello everyone,
This morning I visited a 2nd site in Northern Greece, where a planted a lot of seeds - a few thousand - just like yesterday -very encouraging - the seeds/stones need two more weeks before they all sprout, but many have already sprouted - now that they are sprouting the threats to their survival include rabbits - we will see how many survive the spring into the summer. Today was a good day.
Kostas
a.jpg
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Early stages of growth - still in the ground
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Just sprouted above ground.
Kostas
b.jpg
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Looks Good
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Deep, strong roots roots from the begining.
Kostas
c.jpg
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Deep Roots
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Great!
Did you mark the sowing so you could find them underground?

Didn't you plan to protect a few trees from rabbits, let's say the best strongest ones you find?
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Xisca,

Most of the places where the seeds were placed are visible - the mark of the hoe and the disturbed soil is visible - so they are easy to find.

Its impossible to protect the young trees - there are so many...

I am sure there will be losses, so I plan to go back to the same areas next year and the year after that and place more seeds.

I hope next year to place 10,000 seeds, and each year, find ways to increase this number - we need millions/billions of trees to protect/cover the bare earth.

This spring I plan on putting cactus pears and pads in the ground around the areas I reforested, and around the perimeter of my farm, for both food and as a fence - early indications are that cactus (Opuntia) is a good plant for both reforestation and food production - the pads are edible. As I understand it all you have to do is stick the pad in the ground and walk away - you are done - food production for humans and animals, fire barrier (does not burn) and fence - all to be had in a few minutes, and no cultivation afterwards. Sound good to me - worth a try

Does anyone has any experience in using cactus pads in this way - in mass planting?

Kostas


 
Xisca Nicolas
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Yes, I understand the number, that is why I was saying "a few trees", in case some are very vigorous and good.
I have no idea how much damage can rabbits do....

About opuntia, that I know well... try to find some with "only honest" spines!
I hate the big strong ones (can be dangerous) and the tiny powdery ones...
A faster way of planting:
You can even leave the rackets on the ground and they will arch while drying, condensing dew beneath and making a cup.
Roots will start where the spines are touching the ground. The spines are the leaves.

I have been told that the dry ones can burn...
The old ones have more "wood" than the young ones.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Xisca,

Hopefully the rabbits, turtles and other creatures will not do any damage - but there is nothing we can do - we need to let nature take its course.

That's a very good and interesting observation on the cactus pads, arching and forming roots - it makes our work much easier - I will definitely try it. I hope it works.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Xisca,
A quick question,
What is the best time of the year to "plant - lay down" the opuntia pads?
Kostas
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Hello Xisca,
A quick question,
What is the best time of the year to "plant - lay down" the opuntia pads?
Kostas




I have the same question and want to look for the answer!!!

I have seen they behave like I said in summer when it is dry, and I do not know if it is the best time...
Here, they say the best time to cut them for rotting is winter = wet season...
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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We will have to experiment, and observe - should be easy enough.
Kostas
 
Xisca Nicolas
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By the way, do you sow apricot's seeds?
Here they say that they do not stand drought as good as almonds,
especially the bitter almond.

So either sweet almonds or apricots are usually grafted onto biter almond stock.

But I guess you have not planned to graft!
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Xisca,
I do sow apricot seeds/stones, and they do well - I have not done a "scientific" count however to tell you percentages. I do know that its important to have seeds from healthy trees that are neither too old or young, or sick.

kostas
 
Xisca Nicolas
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For cactus:
Better between april and october if the weather is cold.
All year long if the weather is cool or if the variety is rustic.
It roots in maxi 1 month.
Pads are usually cut at the beginning of winter, and can be kept dry at least 6 months.
If you bury 1/3 or 1/2 of the plant, you will have "plants"
If you put is on the ground, earth should be a little wet and you will get a more bushy plant.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Xisca,
I just found yesterday this cactus pad that I threw away about a month ago. And indeed it has roots - life just got a lot easier.

Kostas
filo-fragosikia.jpg
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Roots on Cactus Pad
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I have asked more around here, and indeed they confirm the method, and some put a stone on the pad.
The cup form of the drying pad keeps rain-water inside while dew can run outside and concentrate water where the pad touches the ground.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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This is GREAT news - so easy - food for all and for free - no effort - now we will experiment ASAP and start looking for different varieties - there are plenty of bare hills that can be used.
Thanks Xisca
 
Xisca Nicolas
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About varieties:
- Choose with big fruits and both colours, yellow flower is I think with red fruit, and orange flower is with green fruit. This one is found in shops, but I think the red fruit is more tasty!
And the color of the juice is incredible.
Also I suppose that this red color gets some antioxidants...
- Choose for spines... Some can really be bad, strong and long, and the thin point can stay in the skin. Some people here have been part of a finger amputated... I personally have something remaining in a finger joint and it took 6 months to cure.
- Mind the ones with thin thin thin spines, they fly and are very bad!

The fruit is also good for birds who eat the flesh but mainly the seeds, as they are fatty.
I think making oil should be possible...

But really, expand only pads with rare little spines.
Look at all the plant, as some pads can look nearly spineless, but from an opuntia with big bad spines elsewhere!

Also good to know: opuntia gives you 3 times more carbon than wheat straw for the same input of water...
and cut pads can make a reserve of water for other plants...
 
Tyler Ludens
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Xisca Nicolas wrote: opuntia gives you 3 times more carbon than wheat straw for the same input of water...


That is excellent information!

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
pollinator
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Hello Xisca, Tyler, and everyone,
I just "planted" about 150 pads - tossed them on the ground - this is in southern Greece (southern Peloponnese) at about 250 meters elevation - I will repeat the same and probably more in Northern Greece - the local variety in Northern Greece is more frost tolerant - soon I will be looking for varieties meant for higher elevations (1000 meters) - does anybody have any ideas about such a variety and where to get it ?

Today I realized that cactus pads are heavy, and large quantities cannot be hand carried over long distances like the seeds - with the seeds you can put 1000 in a bag, carry a hoe, and walk for kilometers before planting - with the cactus pads you are limited to about 15 or so. I will also try planting young cactus pears - they must surely be easier to carry.

I am hopeful that a good percentage of the planted pads will survive - time will tell - we may need to vary "planting" time - closer to October/November - we shall see.

I am convinced that cactus pads can play a vital role in re building our environment.

Kostas


 
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