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Planning a small orchard in Kentucky  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: Southern Illinois
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Greg,

The setup does indeed look impressive.  I posted in the biochar forum a while back about a mini-kiln I made from a paint can and 3 soup cans.  I was just experimenting to see If I could indeed make the char part of biochar.  It took me a couple of attempts and modifications--mostly getting extra air to the chimney, and then it worked fine.  I got little charred sticks, no smoke after it got going and LOTS AND LOTS OF HEAT!  I had a car parked a ways away and I was concerned for a while that I would harm the paint.  The little can was hard to look at and I was a little surprised it did not melt kind of heat so I know what you mean about this getting hot.  And keep in mind, all of my wood fit into a 1 gallon paint can.

Eric
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:Personally, I find the idea of a meandering path through a grove of fruit-bearing trees irresistible.

Eric



Me as well.  I'm just starting a new orchard.  I develop mine by making tree guilds at somewhat random spots throughout the area and I keep expanding them outwards.  As they get bigger, they connect with one another.  The paths make themselves evident.  You'll find you naturally start walking through certain areas the same way over and over.  Those routes become my paths.
 
Eric Hanson
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Trace,

That's not a bad approach at all.  Out of curiosity, did you do anything special with your paths?  Such as did you grow clover or try to make your paths into a living mulch for the soil?  This is just a question as this is a theme that is developing on this thread and I was wondering what others are doing.  Personally, I need to rejuvenate my orchard.  If the rain ever stops and the sun shines I will start by trimming back my massively out-of-control trees in my orchard.  From there I am going to prone better this time around and I think I am going to add some comfrey guilds and some wine-cap inoculated wood chips.  Then I might get to doing something about making the paths a bit more permie.

Thanks for your contribution,

Eric
 
Trace Oswald
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Hey Eric,

When I have extra wood chips, I use those everywhere, including paths.  Since I rarely have extra wood chips and I have an almost limitless supply of sawdust, I'm going to use that this time.  I haven't tried using a cover crop on mine just because I walk on them so much, I'm afraid it will get beaten down to nothing anyway.  If some cover crop does grow into the paths, I leave it.  Things are pretty live and let live at my place :)
 
Eric Hanson
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Audrey, Trace,

You guys are inspiring me to get my but in gear and really, really fix up my own orchard.  I first started my orchard more than a decade ago, but not long after planting, I was hit with a series of health problems, the easiest of which was a string of 25 kidney stones.  Now I have had a couple of trees die & those need to be replaced.  I am also thinking about taking some of my own advice--really mowing down my existing pasture fescue/timothy mix and seeding in a nitrogen fixer-sponge set of plants that could be useful as a ground cover.  I know that at the very least, the trees are going to get some wood chips (inoculated with wine cap mushrooms) and a guild of comfrey plants.  I already have a woodchip-mushroom project I have reported about on this site.  Right now that project is consuming most of my gardening attention, but you guys have made me want to get the orchard back into better condition than it is now.  

Thanks for all your posts and perhaps unintended inspiration,

Eric

p.s.--Audrey, I too get the eye-roll from my wife and kids, they just think I am an eccentric
 
gardener
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Eric Hanson wrote: they just think I am an eccentric


Eccentric can be so great!
 
Eric Hanson
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In my family, being called weird is considered a compliment.
 
Greg Martin
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Eric Hanson wrote:In my family, being called weird is considered a compliment.


I think you'll find a lot of us here at Permies can relate to that Eric!
 
Eric Hanson
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Since this thread is largely about exploring new boundaries, I will refer you to my project I have been working on for about the last year.  I have had this post https://permies.com/t/82798/composting-wood-chips-chicken-litter going on for a while now.  I have been experimenting with using mushrooms to break down wood chips.  I think I just about have the concept down by now but I have learned a LOT.  I have learned about equal amounts by reading posts on this website and by just doing the project and seeing what works and what does not.  Mostly it has gone well.  I have had some failings/shortcomings but overall this has been a very good experience.  I think this is an especially "permie" project as I can keep adding chips into the beds to increase the "soil" (actually mushroom compost) to increase the fertility.  Audrey, Trace, I know that this is probably not something you can do this year, but seriously consider mushroom compost around your trees in your orchard for the future.  Audrey, you asked earlier about a sort of partial hugelkulture bed around your trees.  Instead I would recommend placing some logs around your trees and cover them with inoculated wood chips.  As the mushrooms spread around the mulch, they will inevitably inoculate the logs as well and they will produce mushrooms over a nice long time.  Even if you don't want the mushrooms, the compost will be perfect for your trees (NOTE:  perennials & trees love mushroom dominated compost).

Audrey, Trace, anyone else, I thought I would share these posts with you as I think the compost will be as good if not better for your trees than my vegetables.

Eric
 
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hi Audrey,
welcome to permies

you might find these videos from Clint, the permaculturerealist
also from Kentucky, interesting and useful



[/youtube]

 
Posts: 35
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Eric, I read through your wood chip adventures and am glad to see that you're getting good results! I hope you see a large number of red caps this spring. Do you plan to eat the mushrooms at all, or are you just interested in them for composting? It's nice to see someone else go through the experience of figuring things out as they go. I will take what you've learned and apply it when I start incorporating fungus into my orchard. Now go fix your neglected orchard up again! (And try not to get a 26th kidney stone in the process.)

Trace, your method for developing a meandering path sounds very effective in creating an inviting space. When I was an architecture student years ago (spoiler alert: I switched majors) I'd stare at my blank paper in frustration for hours while my classmates tinkered away on their projects. My studio instructor told me the best way to get a creative project going was to just start with something - anything, even a scribble - and then start adding, subtracting, and editing. That advice has helped me in all creative endeavors since. That sounds like what you're doing by planting tree guilds in random spots, expanding them outward, and seeing where things go. I'm sure it will turn out great. A project that evolves organically is almost always more intriguing and has more layers to it than a forced intellectual design. I've just got to decide if I want a right-brained, "live and let live" style orchard (to use your phrase) with winding paths, or a more predictable, controlled, straight-lined, left-brained orchard. The organically evolving right-brained design sounds pretty appealing...

Duane, thanks for the link to the videos. There are a lot of resources in Kentucky coming out of the woodwork that I knew nothing about. Very helpful stuff!

Like you guys, I take being weird or eccentric as a compliment. Maybe I'll get a little water gun and start squirting the eye rolls I get from my family.
 
Eric Hanson
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Audrey,

Happy you could get something from my chipping adventures.  To answer your question, at first I just wanted the mushroom compost.  Now I am eager to taste my first wine cap mushroom.  Lately I have developed a taste for portobello mushrooms.  I once tried a shiitake mushroom and couldn’t get the taste from my mouth for 3 days (yuck!). So I am eager with some trepidation about trying wine caps.  Everyone I have talked to has said wine caps are the best tasting mushroom and I certainly hope so.  I love the idea of having a vegetable and mushroom garden.  And if the wine caps work there, then they are going all over the place.

And yes, I will get to my orchard.  As I am sure you know, it is pretty rainy lately (I live in Southern Illinois) as our section of the country has been socked with rain lately.

We can talk later about getting mushrooms in your orchard.  Do you have access to logs, and if so then what size?

Talk to you later,

Eric
 
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