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Who is growing a food forest?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Can you post some pics. Love to see how it comes together
 
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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Sure, but I have no idea how to post pictures.
 
Marianne West
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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I just figured it out. You click on reply, then on the left bottom of the test window is a tab; Attachments. Click on it and you can upload up to 3 photos. Now, you get to see some of my Hugels - had to put something up to see if it works
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hugel in front yard build spring 2012
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hugel build in back yard may 2012
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back hugel with some plants
 
Marianne West
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Now, I am on a roll Went out an took 3 pics of the first - front hugel. I guess it might grow into a food forest some day. it is close and partly shaded by a jacaranda tree (nitrogen fixer and upper story). A lemon tree seems to love it toward the street side, a grape looks pretty good. I am hoping it will eventually arch over to the jacaranda, creating a entrance of sorts. One out of 3 blueberries is still alive (I buried a bunch of pine trees on the side I planted the blueberries, hoping this will make it acidic enough for them). Potatoes did initially good, but all died. I first tried not to water at all, but that didn't seem to work.....Squash, sweet potatoes, Horse radish, chard and mint have been the best survivors. also new zealand spinach is starting to do good, lettuces and wildflowers have come and gone. Beets and turnips and a bunch of herbs like it. I did kill at least 3 suramata cherry plants. probably should have waited for the 2nd year. Going to try it again......the first picture above was in the middle of May, the ones I am posting now are from today.
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hugel facing front, like the pic in my last post
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street facing side of hugel, planted a month before back
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east facing side. gourd is loving it......
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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Here are some pictures at our suburban ranch along the Los Angeles River. Lots of plantain, spurge, purslane, mustard, wild radish, dandelion, clover and willow in that meadow!
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Urban goatherding on pasture along LA River.
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Urban goatherding along the LA River
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greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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And here are some pics from 'The Orchard'. . .
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Our raised beds in the back yard. 24" hugelkultur boxes with avocados, kale, tomatoes, brocolli, peppers, herbs, etc in raised beds. Persimmon and lime on right.
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Bananas basking in sun in hugelkultur raised bed along south wall.
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Container garden with peppers, herbs and brocolli.
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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another. . .
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Fully cooked compost bin. We have one more fully cooked and we just filled one.
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Citrus, Pomegranate, berries in 1/2 barrels and tumeric in pots. Under trees is 6" of sticks covered with goat pen muckings, covered with bark, then covered with weed cloth, then four more inches of bark.
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Backyard jungle. In this picture are two apples, almond, fig, five avocados, lime, two peaches, persimmon, willow and aloe.
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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And finally . . .
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Another view of the backyard jungle showing more of the raised bed containing asian pear, two plums, three peaches and two apples..
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70' Sycamore towering over our home.
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One of four taro ponds for our frogs
 
Marianne West
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Looking great, Greg! i especially like the 2 farmhands in one of the pics How long have you been there? and do you have anything on irrigation or do you water by hand? It sounds you have a lot of hugelkultur going. Did I get that right? Love it! Thank you.
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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Thanks, and same to you. Love those giant woodpiles!

We feed tree trimmings to our goats so we have LOTS of tree 'left overs', which is why I now own two chainsaws - a 14" Craftsman and a 20" Poulin. The big stuff goes into the woodpile for winter and the medium and small stuff goes into the bottom of whatever I'm currently piling compost into. I hide all the surplus wood and goat pen muckings in the garden out of necessity I'm just happy it happens to help things along!

I water by hand because it allows me to be right there in the action. I can see what effect a little mulch here or a little more water there has. Plus it's my chance to tan. My biggest hand watering revelations this season were that avocados in raised beds, mounds or boxes can't be over watered, grow like weeds and are both easy and forgiving, but avos in clay soil easily drown. My apples, almonds, plums, pears, peaches, willow, and orange on the other hand love my clay in any watering conditions.

Something I'm going to do since my raised beds with the trees are getting pretty spent is to drive a bunch of wood deep into the soil with my big sledge. I figure that driving wood into the beds will get some nutrients down deep without tearing up all the existing tree roots. Plus it will help me hide even more of the branches that are continually piling up. I'm also planning on planting cover crops this year to help break up the clay.

And since you showed me how to post pics, here are a few more. . .
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We go through alot of trees around these parts!
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One of our taro ponds with a tree frog.
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Hummer in our Fuji Apple.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1665
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Marianne West wrote:partly shaded by a jacaranda tree (nitrogen fixer and upper story).



Just wanted to point out that jacaranda is "mimosifolia" but not a legume, so it does not fix nitrogen, to my knowledge. It even needs a good soil... So I dropped the idea myself! When one has room, sure it is a beautiful tree, enjoy!

Order: Lamiales
Family: Bignoniaceae

 
Marianne West
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Xisca, good point and I am not 100% sure of the answer. My PDC teacher made this claim and I did send him an email to clarify. This website might explain the statement http://www.laspilitas.com/advanced/advroots.htm It is mostly about CA natives, but here is a section where Jacaranda is mentioned.

From the website:
"Ectomycorrhiza is the second type of fungal association.

It is sometimes dominant amongst shrubs and trees in our Mediterranean climate where the rainfall is above 10 inches (30 cm), winter wet, summer dry. The plants that use ectomycorrhizal are under intermediate nutrient stress or seasonal nutrient stress. In our state the winter rains provide a specific bacterial haven for the limited breakdown of the litter in early winter and early spring, providing a small amount of nutrients. The ectomycorrhiza are active in most soils at these times when this nutrition is available to them. They are excellent at extracting the nutrients from the litter as it is being made available. (see Mulches) This litter in the wild may only be one cm. (1/2") thick. That cm. will contain the limiting nutrition for that site and provide the site protection from diseases.

It takes about 6-8 weeks before the ectomycorrhiza become functional on new roots. As ectomycorrhiza become functional they release a chemical (IAA) that encourages rooting (on them, not on other plants). What normally happens in mulched plantings is minimal top growth for a few months to a year after planting, then the plant grows fast. The young plant expends its energy for the first months on root growth and mycorrhizal establishment and has not accumulated enough auxin to stimulate top growth. One Arctostaphylos glandulosa was dug out of the demonstration garden because it was planted in the wrong spot, the roots had grown 1" in 10 days. (the root ball itself should have ectomycorrhiza present.) Other native plants have been moved after a year (they generally died after transplanting), and the root ball from a gallon plant is normally 3 feet across and deep.

It appears that many of our California plants have the ability to be both ectomycorrhizal and ericoid and/orVA. These plants serve as energy bridges/shunts in an ecosystem. The best examples of this are the oaks, willows, cottonwoods, currants, Rhamnus species, roses etc.. These plants act as bridges between water sources and dry hillside, different soil levels, different plant strategies and between different plant communities."

and:
"Non-native plants that can also be ectomycorrhizal (They might also sometimes be VA and sometimes they are not supported by our mycorrhiza.):

Abies, Cistus, Jacaranda, Picea, Pyrus, Tilia, Acacia, Crataegus, Juniperus, Pinus, Rhododendron, Tristania, Carya Cupressus, Larix, Platanus, Ribes, Tsuga, Cassia, Eucalyptus, Leptospermum, Prunus, Robina, Ulmus, Cedrus, Fagus, Malus, Pseudolarix, Rosa, Vicia, Celtis, Fraxinus, Melaleuca, Pseudotsuga, Sorbus, Vitis, Helianthemum

Generally, if the plant is Ectomycorrhizal or Arbutoid mycorrhizal they need to be mulched for the mycorrhiza to be stable. Arbutoid mycorrhiza is another type of mycorrhiza and only forms on some of the genus Arctostaphylos, Arbutus and a few Rhododendron spp. There is some dispute as to its identity. It may be only a funny ectomycorrhiza. The arbutoid fungi are basidiomycetes and are also called ectendomycorrhiza. We treat it here as ectomycorrhiza as we have found in our installations they are interchangeable as long as we plant by community."

So, maybe that is true for SoCA. Not so much the tree itself, but the associations. I emailed my teacher and asked to clarify......
And the tree will stay, no matter what. It came with the house, is long established and great for shade.......

 
Marianne West
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Greg, I am loving your pictures! Can you tell me more about the ponds. Size, how you build them. did the frogs come or did you bring them in............ And more pics!!
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Marianne, you link to an interesting web-site!

Isn't the nitrogen fixing coming from rhizobium (associated with the fabaceae family) more than from mycorize?
rhizobium is a bacteria and mycorize a fungus.

It will be interesting to have your teacher's answer...
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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Marianne West wrote:Greg, I am loving your pictures! Can you tell me more about the ponds. Size, how you build them. did the frogs come or did you bring them in............ And more pics!!



Our ponds are all plastic liner types with cheap Harbor Freight pumps (they cost 10-20 bucks and usually last several years). We have four ponds. Two are 150 gal polyethlene pre-fabs (one salvaged, one on sale). Another is a 50 gal trash can sunk into a raised bed. Another is probably about 75 gal. They have been adopted by all three frogs native in our area: Pacific Chorus, California Tree frog, and California Toads. We used fat head minnows for larvae control as they don't eat the tadpoles like 'mosquito fish' or goldfish will. We keep them full of taro, duckweed, and other plants, and we're looking at putting more native plants into them this season. Also, I'm running water between one pond and a simple aquaponic system and it's working well except for a leak in a hose.

One downside: They attract racoons.
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pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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Ok well I've never tried to download a photo on here so I'll try one, if it does download properly it is a photo of a few of my baby pear trees planted along our deck railing, underplanted with comfrey, daylillies, and some other insectary plants.
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Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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I finally was able to figure out how to down load photos on here so I'm going to download a few of my baby food forest photos: Hope I can do this right. The one I downloaded of the pear trees was in the spring before things started growing, this one is from today of the same photo so you can see the comfrey, and a few of the insectory plants . It is fall here though so most of the plants are done.
This is 3 of the 10 pear trees I have on my property. There is also a baby cherry tree growing among these.
The second photo is a "fruit cocktail tree" ..only one graft is dominant and it hasn't fruited yet, behind it is a peach tree you can't really see well, to it's left is a lilac and it has roses all around it, and then there are more fruit trees to the farther left out of the photo, peach and apple.
The third photo is a Halls Hardy Almond, you can't see the baby peach tree behind it but it is there, but much smaller than the almond, these are surrounded by roses (some dead from the drought but I haven't pruned them out) phlox, daylillies and other wildflowers.
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3 of our pear trees
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fruit cocktail tree
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Halls Hardy Almond and a peach behind it
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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I have planted dozens of baby nut trees in the past couple of years..here are some photos of some of them:

the first is a baby Carpathian Walnut with tiny baby comfrey, baby orn grasses and wildflowers around it, also a baby rose you can't really see, at the south edge of our forest, the second is a baby Butternut (a type of walnut) also at the south edge of the forest and planted with similar plants and also hostas, goumi baby, and others, and the third is a baby heartnut (one of 2) in the edge of the forest with tiny baby jerusalem artichokes around it..along this forest edge are 6 forms of walnuts also incl black walnuts and 2 apricots, service berry and permsimmon trees, seeds of pawpaw, and lots of other berry type bushes and wild fruits.
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carpathian walnut baby
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butternut baby
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heartnut baby
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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We also have several adult producing trees on our property, here is a photo of a self seeded apple, nearby are lots of seedless grapes, edible violets, wildflowers and other shrubs and plants, there are several other large apples as well, the other is a photo of a mixed food/screen forest in the center of our front yard, which containe lots of different things like grapes, elderberries, autumn olives, Mount Royal plums, amur maples, lilacs, spruce baby, wild roses, daylillies, wildflowers, etc.
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large self seeded apple, very tasty late red apple
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grapes, elderberries, autumnn olive, etc.
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Mt royal plum, elderberries, lilacs, grapes, roses, amur maple, spruce, baptisia, daylillies, wildflowers..etc
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peach, apple and other fruit trees with hydrangeas, grapes, lilacs, daylillies and other wildflowers
 
Marianne West
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Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Xisca Nicolas: Isn't the nitrogen fixing coming from rhizobium (associated with the fabaceae family) more than from mycorize?
rhizobium is a bacteria and mycorize a fungus.



You are so right! I did hear back from my teacher, who said that he had heard it from a teacher of his and since the leaves look like a legume, he passed it on without fact checking (as did I). Yup. No Nitrogen fixer. But still pretty
 
Marianne West
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Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Brenda, your place looks great! It has that "green" quality we only get here in CA if we water (a lot). And you managed to upload 4 pictures in one post. That has never worked for me. Good job!

Greg, the blocks with what I assume is a pool liner looks interesting. it doesn't look like it is filled with water. Can you elaborate as to what you are doing there?

We do have a lot of wildlife around and a big empty lot behind our yard - home to coyotes, raccoons, skunks, foxes - you name it. I am thinking of installing a source of water for them in the empty lot so they are not so tempted to come into ours and eat the chickens and little dogs.....

 
greg patrick
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Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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Marianne West wrote:

Greg, the blocks with what I assume is a pool liner looks interesting. it doesn't look like it is filled with water. Can you elaborate as to what you are doing there?



That's our simple and inexpensive aquaponic setup. We have two small pumps on a light timer that run 15min four times a day. They circulate water from a large pond into the shallow pond (~1" deep) full of pots to provide bottom water and nutrients. My kale LOVES the system, as do my willow starts and greens. The trick is to make sure the pots are mostly filled with soil so the roots are several inches above waterline and don't waterlog. I put wood in the bottom of the pots, then fill them up with compost.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Marianne West wrote:You are so right! I did hear back from my teacher, who said that he had heard it from a teacher of his and since the leaves look like a legume, he passed it on without fact checking (as did I). Yup. No Nitrogen fixer. But still pretty



So did I at the beginning... They look like a legume but they are not.
So I correct is as much as possible and "pass the word", because it can modify the place where you plant it!
My neighbour's will never grow well where it is.
 
Marianne West
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Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Thank you Greg, something to ponder....
And thank you Xisca, for pointing out the mistake. There is already tons of misinformation out there - don't want to add more.
 
gardener
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I have a food forest that is about 15 years old on 1/4 acre in the suburbs. No animals. Most of the guilds are around mature, producing fruit trees: quince, black mulberry, medlar, apple, pie cherry, sweet cherry, hawthorn, autumn olive, fig, pineapple guava, Shipova, aronia, pear.. I have many self seeding and perennial vegetables, mostly leafies. Lots of flowers, native and otherwise,vines, and nitrogen fixers and dynamic accumulators in between. Several smaller trees that will be growing up: Walnut, pawpaw, American and Asian persimmon. Many berry bushes. Most of my work involves harvesting the food, but I also graft quite a bit. Each year I get several new varieties of fruit that I get to eat for the first time.
John S
PDX OR
 
Marianne West
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Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Okay John, now we want to see pictures of yours. You are in Oregon? Would you elaborate on your guilds? I am still fuzzy on that one. On one, I planted yarrow, sweet potato/yam, Artichoke. Another, I have comfrey, and geraniums and bulbs around a circle (drip line), some I have flowers, chives, nasturtium. last fall, I planted lava beans all around and am thinking of doing that again.
 
John Suavecito
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I don't have any pictures. I am not too great at the technology thing. I'm too busy growing food.

In the really sunny areas, I have grapes around the trees and hardy kiwis, evening primrose around one, parsley, trifoliate orange,silverberry, comfrey, Jasmine, several flower perennials-gaillardia, bulbs that flower early and then sink, iris, red hot poker, delospermum (succulent), cactus, rose of sharon, crocosmia, palms, wolf berry, aronia, black-eyed susan, seaberry, ichang lemon and artichoke. PLus annual vegetable seed crops.

As we get into part shade to say 5 hours of sun, I mix in fat hen/Good king henry, sanguisorba minor (burnet salad), dandelions, shasta daisy, plaintain , black salsify -scorzonera, French sorrel, rugosa roses, horse radish (for leaf as well as root), sprinkled through self seeding curly mallow, swiss chard, flowering quince thorny bush, native lonicera honeysuckle vine, bellflower, red, black and Crandall currant, gooseberry, native myrtlewood, blueberries, huckleberries, thornless blackberries, himalayan honeysuckle berries, leeks, and horse tail.

In the mostly shady areas, I grow thornless blackberries, cornus mas Cornelian cherry, horsetail, native swamp crabapple, willow, dandelions, red and black currants, and mints.

I try to get some diversity in there. I pack it in like nature.

John S
PDX OR
 
Marianne West
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Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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Thank you so much, John. Lot of what you mentioned grows here as well. Do you, by chance, have some King Henry Seeds? I have been looking for some. If you do, I am happy to send you a self addressed envelope and if you wish, some $...............
 
John Suavecito
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I don't have any good king henry seeds now, but I might later.

I just figured something out. In high school I learned that.....

"Curiosity is the mother of science. "

On this thread, I learned that......

'Science is the father of knowledge,

Therefore, I have just realized that.....

Curiosity is the patriarchal grandmother of knowledge!

John S
PDX OR
 
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPk0nPnuLA4&feature=plcp
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn-B-nmNWzM&feature=plcp

I've been slowly but persistently working on my Bermuda grass infested lawn, converting it to a food forest. The two part video is full of photos and musings that show it off and detail some of my observations and shenanigans with a soundtrack of some tunes I'm working on. It is a bit on the "odd" side. I talk to bugs. Although I wouldn't call it a forest at this point, that certainly is the goal. A micro forest. It's starting to work, there's always something to nibble on out there. I'm on a corner property in an urban environment. I'm concentrating most of my efforts on the outside of the property for the sake of the neighbors. I'm finding that most of them are supportive when they figure out that they can pick fruit on their walks. Grapes, kiwis, passion fruit, nanking cherries, eleagnus, strawberries, jujube, figs, goji berries, and blackberries, edge the property line. I try to make sure that something is always in bloom for the bugs and the old ladies. Flowers are great camouflage for unorthodox gardening techniques. My rationale is that if it's fun for folks they're not likely to report me to the authorities. I've had a couple of run ins so far. Every year the garden looks better and yields more.

In some areas I intensely manage soil quality, but I only have so much time and I'm purposely limiting my input budget. In other areas I'm developing techniques using weedy plants to compete with the Bermuda that also build bio mass that my worms convert into good stuff. For example, I've noticed that cardoons are really easy to get going in poor soil. If allowed to seed they do spread and they are perennial. They create an impenetrable shade ring and yield food and biomass.

It's a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy the videos.

Alge AKA Calvin Mars
 
Posts: 137
Location: Ottawa, Canada -- Zone 4b/5a
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Marianne West wrote:

greg patric: We spend about $40/ month on water.



I am in So Cal as well and spend about $100 a month. That is in the summer - July and august. Is yours water bill all year round that low? How do you do it? - especially with so many pots. They seem to dry out fast......



I have a small not even two years old forest garden on a small urban lot. I am not sure I would ever really classify it as a forest garden given it's size and ability to ever be self sustaining in a closed loop. I have manage this year to only use the city water a few times in August and the rest of the time I manage to have enough water in my rain barrel to water. I should note that I do not have any mulch yet (Octobers project) and the ground cover I planned are still young and just taking off.
I think it is possible to use little to no water which you have to pay for.

Kris
 
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Location: Galicia, Spain Zone 9
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I am planning one in the moment and will do more in the future, which will be quite big (15 acres in a mild, rainy temperate zone 9 tio work with). I will post updates in the future (as in months if not more hehe) when I have more concrete design and photos of results.
 
Jose Reymondez
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Location: Galicia, Spain Zone 9
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I am planning one in the moment and will do more in the future, which will be quite big (15 acres in a mild, rainy temperate zone 9 tio work with). I will post updates in the future (as in months if not more hehe) when I have more concrete design and photos of results.
 
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I have planted trees over the years, and I have gardened. This is all relatively new to me, and I'm stoked but also somewhat overwhelmed and scattered. The area that I have always gardened is about an acre in size, give or take. It lies NW of the house about 20 yards out. The area where I have planted trees is out in front of the house (east) and is about five acres or so, I guess - maybe a bit less -and has a mix of trees from longleaf and slash pines, burr oaks, live oaks, ash, redbud and others to fruit trees such as peaches, pears, plums and such. My father is OLD SCHOOL, and he's got a little dementia creeping up now at 85. It severely disturbs his Wah to not keep the Bermuda grass around the Turrentine Natl Forest out front mowed like a billiard table. I used to like that myself, even wishing some of the trees out front didn't have such low limbs to slap my face as I mowed with the tractor around them. Over the last year or so I floated the idea by him of creating paths among the trees out front and planting around the trees with native plants and edibles, rather than mowing it flat all the time. He rejected that outright and screwed up his face in such a way that I figured it'll take quite a bit more work to bring him around.

Dad was an executive in a defense firm for thirty years or so, and he's a little to the right of Brother John Birch in some ways. It is difficult to make a dent in the paradigm that governs his thinking on aesthetics and functionality and, well, everything else.

So what I'm left with presently is converting the garden acre into a food forest of sorts and letting the results guide me in my efforts to expand that notion outward to the rest of the farm.

Our place is shaped a bit like Oklahoma with the panhandle portion being the acre or more that extends down to the banks of the Brazos River just west of Weatherford. I could do whatever I like with the river property as well, for that matter, though it floods periodically every few years or so.

Needless to say we've had some dry years around the farm recently, and it sometimes gets as hot as 110F at the worst of times. It also gets a little cooler down by the river in winter than it would elsewhere in the county. Along the west side of the garden acre is a low area that has developed over the years as a result of my plowing. I figure I can take advantage of my former ineptness (permaculture principles at work there) and create a Hugelkultur in that space for starters. We have a good many pecan trees around the place that were grafted back in 1927, and they drop a lot of limbs now and then - more often lately as a result of the drought, I think. I've been dragging a few of those limbs over to that Hugelkultur area and even stealing some of the old fireplace logs dad has on the north side of the house that are too big for him to use without me splitting them for him. I need to stop that for now and get the area dug out a bit, I think, in order to accommodate an actual Hugelkultur as I've seen it done here and elsewhere online. I've considered renting one of those tiny backhoes perhaps, though I'd feel like I had more cred if I dug it all out with a shovel.

Something has bothered me this morning while I was watching one of Paul's lecture vids over breakfast. He mentioned that watering trees negates their inclination to send down good taproots and makes them dependent upon irrigation forever after. This past summer I didn't water the trees we had planted the previous autumn, partly because of sloth and partly from intervening circumstance beyond my control. Well, that all died. All my paw-paws, plums, peaches, quince, pear, etc. Everything except a cedar elm and a handful of oaks and such perished from drought, and also because the plague of grasshoppers ate every leaf off of everything that was under a certain age on the farm.

What I'm gathering as I read is that I have a few possible solutions, only some of which I can employ for the trees I have on order at the moment that are due to arrive in the next few weeks.

First and foremost I can create Hugelkulturs everywhere, but at least in the one spot in the garden I've already mentioned. I trust that these may solve at least some of my water issues for trees.

I cage my trees when they're very young, and I can wrap those cages with scraps of row cover that I've used for my winter gardens in the past over greens and such. This should help with the grasshopper problem.

One long, low area to the north of the garden could be converted into a pond, though this is currently quite beyond my ken and has the potential to be something of a boondoggle, if I know my personal history with projects well enough.

I can begin to plant trees by seed rather than mail-ordering 18-24" seedlings online as I've been accustomed to doing. I'm not sure why I think this will make a dramatic difference, but, again, I'd like to have some cred. I don't want to buy my way into permie status. I couldn't if I really wanted to anyway, given that I live most of the time in abject penury and prefer to remain that way, oddly enough.

I do have incidental plantings that occur by accident, such as the greens coming up in the north yard right now from the area where me and a friend were making seedballs for our eco-terror projects back in Dallas. I don't mow there, and I try to repeat those accidents elsewhere as well.

As an aside, I periodically scatter seeds into planters here in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas as I walk the dog during work hours. There is a restaurant full of hipsters a block from my office that has cacti growing in planters outside. It's full of greens I planted over time, though they occasionally pull them up when they get big and healthy looking. I was walking by the other day and plucked some kale out of it and shoved it in my mouth as I went by with my dog Otis and a friend of mine. I quickly realized that there were tiny cactus hairs all over it. My mouth just healed up the other day.

Anyway, I'm planning on planting the paw-paws, or some of them, and perhaps a few of the native fruit trees in the garden acre this month and planting or seed-balling around them as I go, staying away from the Hugelkultur area in the process, and starting the food forest there.

Dad just called me here at the office to let me know he's still alive and well after a day without me going to the farm. I mentioned all this to him, and he chuckled. He thinks I'm a bit of a wingnut, but he humors me.

That is the farm report for November 13, 2012.


This is the garden area:





I feel a little guilty about churning up all that wonderful sandy loam over the years now.





So now I guess it'll look like a moundy jungle if I do it right.

 
Frank Turrentine
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One of my pear trees.

 
Frank Turrentine
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Here are two crappy satellite pics of the farm.





Pink circles are where I think ponds might work. Light blue lines are where Hugelkulturs could go. The trees we've planted are more or less contained within the red circle. The garden area is within the yellow line. The river is over to the left just out of the frame.
 
gardener
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Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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I'm working on starting a food forest.
 
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Location: Middle Georgia
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I have a "food forest". It is self sustaining and grows rampantly and mulches like crazy, feeds itself as well as birds and animals.
I did not grow it. I moved there. The forest does not need me to sustain itself. The question is: what can I do to make a place for
(me/you) in the ecosystem? When I got my 5 acres I was afraid to mow anything down. I did not know the trees and plants well
enough to know what were the beneficial herbs and plants. So I just started planting trees. Like another poster said, some did not
it. My general vegetable gardening has a lot to be desired too, but it is getting better. Your land will begin to teach you what and
where things will grow and what will not. I have a long way to go. But this year my Bees are doing well, so that is a big step forward.

Start a big compost pile. When you toss in your fresh fruit and vegetable scraps, it will help show you what to grow. Your place will
surprise you, like it did me.In addition to blackberries and muscadines,I have a bunch of small sassafras trees and beauty bushes,
both repel mosquitoes. Check with local extension and they can help you identify your "good stuff", and recommend companions for
the things you already have. May I suggest trying Almonds. I love pecans, but I am too old to wait 20 years for a good crop. Almonds
will grow anywhere peaches grow, and it only takes 5 or six years for a big crop. Northerners look for those needing more chill hours.

Good luck, sounds like a worthy endeavor.
 
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Location: CO; semi-arid: 10-12"; 6000 ft
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Nick, I think your definition of Food Forest is too limiting. Patrick Whitefield, in How to Make a Forest Garden, showed several designs for forest gardens that were essentially a garden bed with 1 tree, 1 or 2 shrubs, and some understory plants, for someone with a tiny urban space.

My home garden is on a 1/8 acre lot, with about half of that space being buildings, paths, firewood and lumber storage, etc. But in the rest of the yard, we have a food forest. I have 2 apple trees, 2 plum trees, 1 peach. None are mature enough to produce fruit yet. I tried pears but they got eaten by rampaging deer and haven't been replaced. I have some young willows to help form a windbreak, in spots where they receive runoff from the alley or the compost pile. I also have a couple of suckering plum bushes, not sure what they will turn out to be, they are from a plum seedling someone gave me several years ago. I also have a young boxelder under a tall canopy of elms.

My shrub layer has Nanking cherries, which had their first crop last year, some Siberian pea shrubs, currants and gooseberries, a buffalo berry, serviceberry, and sumac. Also some purple leaf sand cherry. I tried elderberry, but I think they have died back. Have to wait for spring to see what is still alive. I have planted lots of things that didn't survive, like raspberries, blackberries, grapes, and other fruits.

In the lower layers I have lots of chives and perennial onions, comfrey, rhubarb, garlic chives, marshmallow herb and purple poppy mallow, asparagus, alfalfa, yellow sweet clover, daylilies, hollyhocks, thyme, yarrow, tarragon, mint, and garden sorrel, along with useful "weeds" like dandelion, plantain, purslane, lamb's quarters, shepherd's purse, amaranth, malva, and wild spinach. There are probably more that I have forgotten over the past few months. I keep planting strawberries, but they haven't really taken to my yard.

My vine layer is hops on a fence, that gives afternoon shade to a small sitting area, with horseradish and sunchokes as a root layer. I also have lots of volunteer sunflowers, which the wild birds love, as well as ants and aphids to feed the predator insects.

In small beds beneath all this abundance, I plant leafy greens like kale, chard, parsley, and spinach, sometimes am able to grow beans on my fence, and last year had a nice crop of winter squash in a sunnier spot.

I figure I have about 50 species of perennials in this small yard, which provides part of my food needs, while producing buckets of greens to feed my chickens last year. So I think that qualifies as a food forest. I am also in the beginning stage of planning and planting a food forest at my market garden a couple blocks away (does that count as a zone 4?), but that will be a story for another time.
 
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I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who is attempting a food forest in a place similar to mine. I manage a family forest of 116 acres on the Olympic Peninsula in NW Washington. I live in this forest part of each year. Our goals for the forest are educational for our descendants, recreational for all of us now, and financial. (if any logging ever takes place it will be selective and sustainable....never a clearcut) I have a degree in Ag. and was a Biology teacher many years ago.

I've read Crawford and much of it is interesting, however our forest is alive with bears, deer and elk. Fencing is out of the question, so whatever we do has to be self-sustaining, self-protecting, self-regulating. Natural!! We can do some things around the edges such as thinning for species that can survive and spread. At 77 years of age I will never see the results of what I do now but I can envision where it might go if I start the right thing. I began by asking for help from (highly paid) and well-known permaculture "experts" who either because they were too busy or because they had no idea about how to approach it, were not interested in it, and gave me one really stupid suggestion which I will not relate here.

The forest was re-planted to Doug Fir by a timber company, post clearcut, in 2000, so it is at a very young age and nearly impenetrable. I cleared about an acre just to plant a set of native edible shrubs/berries and it looks like I got about a 50% survival rate, which is a success, but the animals will get more interested in them as they mature. I'm hoping birds will carry seed to other "edges" of light. The bears will kill a percentage of the young firs over time which may be okay, since this is a Hemlock Spruce climax forest which is where it will end up in time. Ironically, when it is more mature there will be less light for the edible stuff and whatever I do now will be confined to edges which naturally occur only with blowdown or fire. We do have small groves of young Red Alder which are probably our best areas to approach some form of ag. (I've begun some Shitake culture on Alder stumps. No results yet.) The climax species however will attempt to move in and will succeed if left unattended.

Which leads me to a question. In all of the comments about forest gardens I don't see mention of what the succession really is. Left to its own devices any land will proceed to some ecological climax over time. Why aren't forest gardeners and permaculture people discussing this as the template within which they must intervene? If they don't, it seems to me they are just temporary farmers like my more urban home where I grow veggies, fruits and chickens. (the hawks and coyotes in our forest would love it if I raised chickens there!) I could go on here but for now is there anyone out there who is attempting a food forest in a coniferous climax forest area of a size large enough for predators and mature enough to approach mature forest light, or the absence thereof?

Thanks,

 
Seriously? That's what you're going with? I prefer this tiny ad:
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