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The farm in Puebla

 
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If you look really closely at the pic above you can see a few small weeds. As shade increases weed decrease dramatically. It's awesome to see all the right species and the high density come together to create a truly permenent food forest (still minimal weeding). If I where to disperse canna edulis more thoroughly and harvest it often enough that it doesn't take over weeds would be controlled even further but we would get Les raspberries. As the canopy has thickened we have started to get less pears from the old pear trees and there are a lot less chayotes. The chayotes that do grow will be way later too because their just not getting enough light anymore. Eventually if overall production drops off too much I will take out more side branches to let the light in and to encourage the trees to reach for the sky. I never cut the central leader and I don't worry about not being able to pick the fruit way up in the air. I simply pick it up off the ground daily or I shake the tree if possible. The only trees I prune regularly are Mulberry and capulin cherry because it's nice to pick those right off the tree. By pruning cherry I mean coppicing we burn the wood for cooking and we make charcoal. I also cook food for the pigs so we use more than your average family. Pigs love the cooked stuff, they don't waist near as much.
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Jeff Hodgins
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As you can tell from most of the pics the current understory consists of mostly raspberry. In the future I will probably plant more Canna edulis because it does better in full shade. The raspberries will be pushed ever outward toward the edges, although raspberry is pretty shade tolarant too. Oh and I also hope to inclued much more dioscorea japonica and maybe other dioscorea as they are also extremely shade tolarant.
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The space in this image could be filled with canna, not much else
The space in this image could be filled with canna, not much else
 
Jeff Hodgins
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Hi John. The climate here is actually cool because of the altitud (2000m). I was surprised when I first arrived. It's in a summer rainfall area with plenty of rain in summer but 6 or 7 months of drought in winter. The winter temperature can be anywhere from 26°C down to -4 at night and summer is usually 26 at mid day and around 15 at night. This year we where lucky to have no frost in winter.
 
Jeff Hodgins
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So we added another 7 acres to the equation this year. I plan on keeping some of the new farm for Napier grass. Probably about half will be left with no trees. I hope to diversify the Napier area as well with legumes and fire tolerant or herbaceous plants the other area will be alley crop with about 10 m between  the tree rows. Even wider alleys might be better if we still want to be able to have corn in between after it reaches maturity. The way we prune it is minimal so they grow tall. Having wider alleys could mean having more room for Cana lilies and other shade loving plants closer to the trees. I am trying to keep the trees pruned away from the tractor into a narrow hedge kind of only very tall. Often when the tractor comes in spring there are a few more branches that I need to cut quickly before he knocks himself off the tractor with it or he has to go around or he has to stop the tractor and reach up with his machete and chop the branch I don't really like chopping them with the machete method for obvious reasons. Partially failed corn crop this year. Not enough nitrogen was applied. We tilled in the stocks and when you do that you need to add nitrogen because the woody materials absorb nitrogen as they start to decompose they do release it later on but it will be too late for the crop.
 
Jeff Hodgins
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I realize now that I should have planted timber trees with the orchard at the same time. I would have cash flow much sooner . Last year we cut most of the trees right down and grafted them. I would not have chosen to cut the larger ones but I wasn't there.. so now I'm looking at waiting another 3 years before any substantial crop of pears or tejecotes. Lots of apricots are expected in the coming year.
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Jeff Hodgins
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So they pruned the central leader out of the apricot trees which made them grow nothing but leaves. We planted 1,500 fruit trees mostly on the new farm. We bought most of them for 40 pesos or $2.00 american and they where 7 feet tall and slender. We planted mostly ungrafted peaches and pears.
 
Jeff Hodgins
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https://www.facebook.com/groups/148591371868205/permalink/5217759008284724/
This is a link to a farm video.
 
Jeff Hodgins
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Here is a list of the main plants I will be concentrating on.

Non-tree plants

Nopal
Agave
Canna
Napier
Crinum
Castor bean
Agapanthus
Raspberry?
Aloe
Banana?
Natal plum?
Chayote?
Passion fruit?

Tree list

Tejocote
Capulín
Peach
Pear
Poplar
Fraxinus a
White sapote
Loquat
Fig
Mulberry
 
Jeff Hodgins
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Plants to integrate into annual cropping rows rather than tree rows or plants suitable for both.

Canna
Nopal
Napier?

Napier may not die out with normal tilling and could be too thick to cut with tractor discs. Napier could work if it were kept very small so one would maybe plant the Napier late in the season for some extra fall fodder then till it in. Nopal roots and stalks would most likely be soft enough for tractor to cut but it may still become an acceptable weed. Canna would also tend to persist if missed by harvesting but would not be problematic as a weed
 
Jeff Hodgins
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Well it has been a while. I've gotten devorced and remarried in the mean time. I left everything to my kids and my ex wife but Im starting again on a beautiful piece of land in the tropical sierra norte de Puebla. The new property has ample water it has a river that Springs out of the ground half a kilometer away. The farm where the river originates is organic so I drink the water straight out of the river it is crystal clear. The new Farm is about 7 Acres and it's very steep but highly productive. It was all abandoned for 20 years and grown over in forest. I cut down about two or three acres worth of forest for planting and to give light to the fruit trees that were under the forest. There were a bunch of huge Orange trees mame sapote and bananas. I've been trying to fill in all the space in the area that I cut but it is proven to be difficult the corn I planted was not suited to the tropical climate and it failed. Beans on the other hand do really well. Most of the farms in the area grow bananas or coffee or both. Because of that reason I was reluctant to plant bananas in the beginning but I have decided I will plant a few more bananas. I was lucky to start out with about 60 mature banana plants on the farm. I was able to get Malanga or taro and I planted some along one of the waterways. I'm still looking for a supplier of true yams in the area I don't want to have to order them from abroad. I'm growing purple sweet potatoes which are a little too sugary for my liking I would prefer to grow the orange variety. I came across a delicious variety of tree tomato it's a little more orange rather than red so I'm starting those I stole them from my neighbor. I picked them up off the ground and I'm renting a house so it's not like I was trespassing. The local people have been very supportive and they supplied me with cassava cuttings pigeon pea seeds Malanga and even a local heirloom corn variety. The rats ate the corn before I could get it planted that's the problem in the tropics with grain if the ants don't get it something else probably will. So my current home is an hour and a half away and it's in a cool region at 2,000 M altitude I go to work on the farm usually during the week where I get eaten alive by mosquitoes and I sweat my cojones off. It's nice to be able to come home to a cool place but still have a Tropical Paradise to grow food.
 
Jeff Hodgins
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I'm starting plants at Home in a greenhouse it's a really high tech Greenhouse here's a picture of it. The pots are mostly full of banana passion fruit mixed with annuals. I'm also trying to start rambutan. Eventually I will be planting a lot of trees but contrary to how I have acted in the past I'm concentrating on stuff that can produce a crop fairly fast because I need a crop now.
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Jeff Hodgins
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The greenhouse is actually made from recycled TVs a lot of TVs have transparent plastic in the screen.
 
Jeff Hodgins
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Oh and there are lots of old coffee plants. Much of the coffee is under dense pine trees where it will not fruit much so Im cutting them out. Normally bananas shade the coffee but some of this coffee was so tall that it was shading the bananas so I cut those out too. Everyone there grows coffee and they encourage me to do the same. I prefer to buy coffee from the locals who already have things set up for roasting it. We will still harvest some coffee but we will probably sell it green or dried rather than roasting myself. I have started drinking coffee all the time but its not very hard on the stomach like store bought coffee is. Its good coffee because its growing at about 800m altitude. If anyone wants to try some of the local coffee you can order from my friends at Finca Guerreros on facebook.
 
Jeff Hodgins
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Got 3 little jackfruits trees coming up
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