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How to avoid the 'split pea soup' planting pattern on large scale forest garden

 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Burra Maluca wrote:
I am *so* with you on that!  The stuff we have tried and failed with is incredible. 



This sounds horrible, but I'm always happy to read about other peoples' failures! Misery loves company.    I've killed far more trees and plants than I've succeeded with.  I think I'm finally getting the idea of how I have to proceed (Plant the rain first, then the plants).

 
gardener
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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The recent turn of thread seems like something very important.  Much of what we call professional design is actually "sales".  In design school you learn how to sell postcards, not build viable systems -- after the landscape architect gets paid, it is the landscape maintenance working that builds the system.  Designing an evolving and interactive system is a iterative challenge -- it is not just a plan view layout.  With our goals, it is at a minimum a 4-dimensional project with animate components.  Doing it with trees takes half a lifetime.  Incorporating the context of an evolving social system (like an energy strapped marketplace with imbalanced distribution of power and wealth and lots of elders) ups the ante. 

There has been a lot of ecological water under the bridge since succession theory.  We keep up with the ecological literature... network/systems theory... astrology... business strategic planning... facilitation strategies... whatever metaphorical framework you need to do the build the practice... while keeping an eye on the flows energy-water-nutrients.

Like check out... Assembly Theory
 
pollinator
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Paul, please don't loose some of us slow learners.  Your website looks fascinating, and I started in on your thesis, but that will take some time.  Are you saying that the only time that your method of propogation will work is late fall or early winter?
Travis one thing that we are seeing here (just outside of Ithaca NY) is an explosion in small farms looking for a market.  Ithaca Market has 125 stalls and another 150 farmers that want  to get involved.  Some of the old timers that used to make 1,500.00 dollars on a Saturday now make only 900.00 because of the competition.  We believe that Forest Gardening offers alot of barriers to entry, if you are looking at it from a competitive marketing standpoint.  So much of what we want to do takes alot of time and money to accomplish.  Once we get there, we are tough to compete against.
Unfortunately there is a down side to being "different".  We grew sorrel for a restaurant, actually a pretty famous one.  The owner/chef used to cook for the Clintons on special occassions.  Well we grew it and then she decided she didn't want it.  We now had a beautiful herbaceous perennial, that no one wanted and we had lots of it.  It tooks us weeks at the farmer's market offering free samples of pesto to finally get our sales up to around 10 pounds a week. 
Mt. Goat: there is a saying around here, you either farm with money or you farm for money. We have to pick door #2

Best Hopes

Ed
 
gardener
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Ed, I know what you mean...Markets can be competetive, and restaurants can be fickle and fair weather friends. I have no way of knowing for sure but it seems to me that one must have back up options for utilizing crops, as you did by making pesto out of the sorrel. I recall the leaves being big enough that if you couldn't sell it any which way, you could use it as a cut and come again mulch, or use it as an animal feed. Multiple avenues for selling produce are key IMO, as is not growing so much of something as to be reliant on it for income, yet growing enough to meet average market demands. Its just that easy...

Looking around at the product vaccuums that exist is what I'm trying to do. NOBODY is growing fruit commercially in my region, save for apples and strawberries, and good luck finding any that are grown organically. Same story with edible mushrooms. And as far as I've been able to find, there are only two other farms growing globe artichokes in my whole province, and the ones who are, are about 2 hours away from here, not even putting a dent in the market. Sweet potatoes are another rare locally produced crop. I could go on.

So, I'm looking to do what no one else (or very few) are doing, and going for it. If my fruit stops selling at market, I also intend to have a U-Pick, restaurants, groceries, and possibly bakeries, and wineries as options. I realize that then you go to wholesale pricing but I still think theres a pretty penny to be made. Especially with our projected low overhead.

 
Ed Waters
pollinator
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I'm going to dump these here for folks following forest gardening.

http://www.wpr.org/hereonearth/archive_090903k.cfm

http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2010-11-12/mark-shepherds-106-acre-permaculture-farm-viola-wisconsin

Couple of years apart in the interviews.

I will be interested to hear comments.

Best Hopes,

Ed
 
Paul Cereghino
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@Ed.. I posted a response to the propagation thread (Hope that makes sense...)
 
Travis Philp
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I've been reading through the entire first volume of  David Jacke's 'Edible Forest Gardens'  and on page 268-271 he talks about patch dynamics and says:

"Designing in patches increases diversity in our gardens by helping us create lumpy texture in the aboveground architecture."

He sites the comparison photos on page 106 as a visual example of patchiness. From my view, the patchy picture (an appalachian cove forest) has "dense shrub and herb vegetation in the foreground, and lack thereof at left and farther back. Also note the variation in density of the tree trunks..."

He then has a picture of Robert Harts forest garden to illustrate split pea soup and says "Plants of many heights grow together, but every layer is equally packed throughout most of the garden. This reduces lumpy texture and air circulation and increases pest and disease potential and the general hassle of getting around..."



I think Marina put it simply: "Maybe a way to avoid the soup texture is to have five or so guilds that are spaced further or closer together?  I like the ideas of significant openings, gaps, meadows, and outdoor rooms."  
 
Paul Cereghino
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There are studies of patch environments in NW Forestry journals... in general... drier sunnier conditions to the north... moister shadier conditions on the southern side (speaking as a northerner).  To achieve microclimate diversity the patch size would be scaled based on the mature height of the canopy... easy to underestimate necessary patch size.
 
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Location: Near Beaver Valley, Ontario, Canada
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Travis Philp wrote:
Planting a small amount of each type of forest garden plant and giving them a year or two to see if they work. Unless I'm pretty sure that they'll work out. EG. I know cherry, apple, currants, gooseberries, plums, mulberries, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, globe artichoke, and many varieties of vegetables will work well here



I'm located in Southwest Ontario, just outside Owen Sound. Zone 5a I think.

If you wouldn't mind, can you list the sources that you've found for the various plants/trees/bushes?

We're trying to set up a small food forest here, and apple/plum/cherry trees are available from Canadian Tire/Home Depot/etc. Berry plants of various sorts (red currants, gooseberry, blackberry, blueberry) are also availabe from these stores.

However other nut trees/etc aren't.
 
pollinator
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I tend to agree with David Jackes patch dynamics.

As I look through the forestes on our property and surrounding areas where I roam, I find things do often end up in patches..esp things like berries.

Although they will spread out through the forest, the largest groupings are in patches..like a blackberry patch, a raspberry patch, etc..but if you have a trail or a road they'll follow along the trail or road..as they are seeking the sun that has opened up where the trail or road has disturbed the shade and allowed in sun.

The larger plants and trees will more likely spread out from patches to forests where other trees have died and left an opening for the new ones to grow..that is why a nurse tree species helps a hardwood type species to grow.

Then there are runner or clumper species..they will grow in groups spreading out larger and larger from the center..so therefore in patches..but large patches.

The aspen is an example..as it is disturbed it sends up runners that grow into new trees, and those send up runners and those send up runners to where eventually one tree with all it's runners can cover several acres.

the clumpers would be like say a hazelnut tree, it will send up clumps of hazelnut trees all around it, thus you get a large patch of hazelnut clumps.

then there is also the environment patches..a wet patch will have clumps of willows in a patch, or alders, or red maples or even if you are lucky a nice several acre swamp patch of black spruce. We wandered upon a huge patch of baby black spruce in a swamp several years ago and you literally could pull them up by the roots as they were basically growing ght in water andsome peat..i have a wet property so I brought dozens of baby black spruce home and now they are reseeding themselves here on my property as adults..
 
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