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Reforestation - Growing trees in arid, barren lands - by Seeds and Clay cubes (no watering)

 
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Hello Waldo,

Thank You for the post and all the info on the challenging/interesting the conditions that you are working with !!!

You and Shauna could start a seed saving project - some people here in Greece, are discussing undertaking a project in the middle eastern desert - reforest the desert ? - sounds taunting (impossible maybe more like it), but both you Shauna make it sound doable.

My conditions here are much easier in comparison, but the forestry departments here, and around the world's arid zone countries have a hard time planting pine trees - they have a high degree of failure.

Maybe we can all contribute seeds and our knowledge/energy to help build the Great Green Wall - they/we need to plant over 50 billion trees there !!!

I am sure some of the species you mentioned will work well there!!!

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Just a photo of the trees that we're planted this year ... it's a pleasure to see them grow!!!

Kostas
20160606-thes.jpg
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This year's new trees
 
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Any chance you could upload some video?
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Not a problem, give me a bit of time
Kostas
 
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This is an inspiring thread Kostas thank you!! As soon I first read it I was motivated to start saving seeds from local fruit trees so I can plant them plant in autumn. I've got loquat, cherry, apricot, peach and nectarine seeds so far, and will have more once more fruit come into season. I will also try planting date palm and albizia. We have around half an acre of bare land here that could definitely benefit from this technique.
The climate here is wet and humid in winter and hot and dry in summer. I've seen plenty of wild fruit trees sprout and grow all on their own on abandonned properties around here. Almonds, figs and pears seem to be the most common ones to appear on abandonned lots, but walnut and wild plums can commonly be found too.
I think you'd do very well with fig trees Kostos if you can get ahold of cuttings. All you have to do is remove all the leaves and stick them in the ground during the rainy season at the end of Autumn or beginning of Winter. By Spring the cuttings will have started to grow.

I have a question though, do you bother cracking the almond/apricot/etc nuts to get the kernel or do you just plant the whole thing?
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Tj,

That sounds great Tj … once you start, it will be easy to do.

No - the kernels do not get cracked - mother nature takes care of that during the wet winter season.

I would love to have fig trees added to the list, but we would like to do this by seed - mother nature does this all the time - I have not been able to do it yet … we need to work on it soon. Using cutting is not a bad idea, and will probably try it in areas that do not have any fig trees.

Again keep us posted, with photos and videos, let us know which trees, work and which do not - it will be interesting.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Jd,

Here are 3 videos - 1 near Thessaloniki and 2 videos 1/2 hour south of Thessaloniki - here an area about 2,000 square meters is just about filled in with small trees - I will add a few apple and plum seeds but it's getting there - in 10 - 15 years we will have a small food forest, and all is done by a few hours of work… it’s a joy really… not work !!!

In Thessaloniki I am hoping to have an area of 5-10,000 square meters forested/planted over the next few years.

The benefits are many, and obvious, and need to be stated.

---food for anyone that needs it,
---oxygen/air filtering etc, for all,
---soil formation and water retention,
---it can provide income for people who need it,
---it can be used for educational purposes … schools and other civic organizations can use it as an example and start reforestation projects

I surely have forgotten some.








Kostas
 
Jd Gonzalez
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Wow! "Epharisto"for the video update. Awesome work.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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!!!
 
Jd Gonzalez
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Kontas,
I remembered that you mentioned trying "nopales" a.k.a. cooked cactus pads. I found this recipe and it looks and sounds tasty.




http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/nopalitos_cactus_salad/

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Looks great JD !!!
please share the recipe - how dìd you collect and prepare the pads?
Thanks
Kostas
 
Jd Gonzalez
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Looks great JD !!!
please share the recipe - how dìd you collect and prepare the pads?
Thanks
Kostas


Here you can buy them canned, freshly cut in a bag and the whole pad. I've had the canned type with cilantro, green onions, and tomatoes. They taste like mild cooked green beans to me.

1 lb (450 g) fresh chopped(and cooked) nopalitos
1 lb cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 3 cups)
1 cup chopped red radishes
1 cup finely chopped red onion
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Toss together.


 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Sounds Great !!!
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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UPDATE

A few days ago, I visited south Greece, outside of Sparta, at an elevation of 1,000 meters.

The area has a conifer forest that was partially burned in 2007.

A year and a half ago (this is their second summer), I planted a small area. Most of the trees were apricot and almond.

I also tried walnuts, and to my great surprise, they survived last summer and are doing well - the area is not near a water source, so the seeds were strong enough and it appears that the walnut tree may become part of our seed line up for high elevations. A very pleasant surprise.

I put in a few more walnut and plum seeds in the ground in this area to see what happens to them - this is the 1st time I try to put seeds in the ground in the middle of the summer - it will be interesting to see whether the sun will dry them out, or they may be taken away by squirrels etc. It would be nice if we can do seed placement this time of the year - nature lovers visit the area all summer long and take hikes in the mountain - if it works out - we can have a few seeds available for them to place in the ground while traveling ( I did not have apple or other seeds with me to put down).

See video


Kostas
 
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Woosh, sorry for taking such a long time to get some photos up of my area down in Arizona! Had a few technical difficulties. >_<

But, here are some photos of my area.

First is the growth under the largest mesquite tree in my yard (likely a cross-breed with of native and non-native mesquites that grow in the area). There is a lot of reddish rock underneath, a hold over of the previous owner that I eliminate a little more every year. You can see where the few shrubby grasses stop and more green growth starts - that's essentially right where the demarcation line is between shaded earth and non-shaded, at mid-day. You can't quite tell, but some of the green in front is actually baby mesquite trees, blending into the low hanging canopy. There are a few non-mesquite plants growing further back on the right - a few shrubs and one net leaf hackberry tree that is still shrub sized. The little green bottle near the ground is hiding a tiny native berry bush that was just planted and needs extra watering for another year, yet.

Edit - actually, I still have the technical abilities of a blind newt, it seems...I'll put the other photos up in separate posts!
The next photo is the other side of the mesquite, showing other growth. There are two cactus with edible fruits, two desert broom in the back ground, some up and coming Indian scrubby mallow shrubs, two native hackberry bushes and another baby mesquite on the right. The center, near the reddish, square brick, is mostly empty because I recently took out two bushes that had sprouted there - both were non-native invasive species that were not good for the yard or the environment. Instead, I have planted there now another native berry bush, lemonade berry, and it should hopefully be fully established and possibly able to reseed within the year.

The next is showing two baby mesquites - these are both about wild seeded, 6 years old, growing on the lower side of the yard where water tends to pool during rainstorm.



mesquitegrowthunder.jpg
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Mesquite with growth underneath #1
 
shauna carr
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Photo of back side of mesquite
mesquiteunder3.jpg
[Thumbnail for mesquiteunder3.jpg]
back side of mesquite
 
shauna carr
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The baby mesquites on the side of the yard - these are about 20 feet from another mesquite, I'd say.
mesquitebabies2.jpg
[Thumbnail for mesquitebabies2.jpg]
 
shauna carr
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And lastly, growth under another mesquite.
You can see a few baby mesquite just 2-3 years old in the foreground. The darker green little bush in the right front is a wild seeded chiltepin, and the leggy shrub just behind it and to the left is a net leaf hackberry tree. In the background on the left are larger shrubs, and on the right are a baby mesquite, another net leaf hackberry, and a desert hackberry or two- i will likely have to thin it out a bit if I want them to survive.

I've got a vine planted near the base of the tree, another native one, that I am hoping will reseed once I get it established.

The net leaf hackberry and the chiltepin have only wild seeded in the yard underneath the shade of much larger plants, mesquite, typically, although a very large shrub did the job in one case. The mesquite will sometimes wild seed even in areas with little to no shade, but it will struggle for quite a while before it starts making progress, in that case. Can stay less than three feet high for years, in the hotter areas.
mesquiteunder2.jpg
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Mesquite #2
 
shauna carr
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and one last photo, actually - this is an area with hardpan. I only show this because it highlights one of the issues here with reseeding, which is that sometimes, you have to prepare the land a little bit even for wild seeding, if you want to have growth that you get to see in your lifetime. This area has not been touched for over 6 years (except the edges where you can see more growth), and you can see how little growth there is, compared to the areas I already showed, which had less hardpan. It actually has afternoon shade, although no leaf litter, but with the shade it gets, usually you would see some growth. However, the dirt here can get so hard that plants simply cannot break through and survive.

In these areas, last year I finally began digging holes to break up the hardpan, and dumping in some green and brown compost leavings, then filling the holes back in to leave alone and let wild seed later.
IMG_1976.jpg
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Growth after 6 years in hardpan
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank You so much Shauna for the Photos and comments - how encouraging !!!

Great work… please continue to post and inform.

The power of the mesquite tree… and human persistence !!!

Kostas
 
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Hey, thanks for all the updates! My girlfriend and I came across this video and I had to share.


 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Andrew, Thank You for the video - sorry it took so long to get back to you.

Interesting concept - let's see how it develops - it’s a very difficult problem - it will be interesting if venture capitalists fund this type of a start up like this.

What is your opinion on this video ?

Kostas
 
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You are still an inspiration Kostas. I am very impressed to see how all of those trees are doing. You will be a legend in Greece one day.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Don't know about that Elle - thanks for the kind words
Kostas
 
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Hello all,

I've been reading about Kostas' marvelous reforestation efforts with almond and other seeds, and those of other contributors as well. I am very much inspired to do the same. We've just moved to Southern Valencia, Spain to a hamlet about 500 m above sea level. Rainfall is about 500 mm per year, falling mainly between October-December. The climate is classified as Csa.
There are mature Aleppo pines, 20 neglected olive trees, 1 fruiting cherry, 1 bay, 2 arbutuses, and 1 loquat planted within dry stonewall terraces in just under 4000 sq m.  The soil is a thin layer of sticky red clay, with many outcroppings of limestone. Most of the plot is bare now, except for blooming wild chicory and wild carrot. I would like to have more understorey planting to cover bare areas during the summer. In early spring when we moved in, the ground was covered with grasses and wildflowers, most of which have all dried up. The surrounding endemic vegetation includes holm oak (Quercus ilex), Pistachia lentiscus, carob, rosemary, thyme, cistus, sedum, and diverse Euphorbia spp.
For the first year I am just observing the plot to see what comes up naturally and how it does without any artificial watering. I am hoping to plant mainly edible trees and shrubs. Your experiments with no-care seed planting got me thinking I might try almonds, figs, and carobs; the latter two I have seen growing by the roadsides, possibly self-sown or distributed by birds.

As nitrogen-fixers and windbreaks as well, I've been thinking of using Eleagnus species, in particular E. angustifolia (aka Russian olive) which has been successfully used in reforestation around the Aral Sea, and sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides). Both Eleagnus angustifolia and sea buckthorn have edible berries, for humans and wildlife alike. As ground cover/N-fixer, I also had in mind using peanuts. Has anyone had experience with these?

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and wishing you the best with your reforestation trials!

Jay




 
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More on starting fig trees from branches.  We obtained a one acre lot with an old school house on it in the northern Sacramento valley.  A few of the arbor day tree plantings had survived on the East, road side of the building shaded from the intense afternoon sun.  The roads divided the land into one square mile sections and originally each one had a farm house on it. Now there is just the fig trees around where the house was and the sheep rest under them when brought down from the mountains to clean up the barley fields.
We had what is called a hydro spade, just a three foot length of steal pipe with a faucet on top and a flattened tip. With the beginning of the rainy season we used the hydro spade to blast three foot deep holes in the ground and stuck four foot long fig branches in the holes. The next spring mos of the branch tips above ground leafed out and grew. This made a wind and sun break along the south and west fences for the new house. The cement school house could only be used as a barn/workshop because of earthquake restrictions.
 
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Hello Kostandinos I am of my way to Crete to create a spot of Paradise. I have collected almonds from a tree in Pendeli and plan on collecting apricot, plum and nectarine stones. Should I first cracking the stones? Do I need to stratify them first? I also am dreaming/planing to green the adjacent barren mountain slopes that belong to the church. It will be difficult to water these. What do you suggest. As it's been a while since this thread was first posted I would love to hear of your successes and failures and everybody else on this thread. Thank you so much.
 
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Dear Kostas,
after posting I happily realised that this thread is much longer and fresher than I first thought so please forgive me if I have asked questions that have already been answered.
Another plant I am interested in planting us the pomegranate and fig. Is it possible to grow them from seed?
Thank you
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Anastasia, and welcome to Greece.

We all wish you all the best in your noble effort to create a "spot of paradise".
You will be restoring a paradise lost; in the Minoan times, the island of Crete was heavily forested. The land is looking forward to your arrival.

It will take smart work to bring it back - observe carefully, think clearly, and then act - repeat this cycle until you succeed.

You do not need to stratify or scarify the seeds we mentioned here.

The climate in Crete is a "bit" more difficult than Thessaloniki; longer summers and fewer rains, but I am sure you will succeed.

Make sure goats and sheep do not graze the land you plan to seed. Look for goat droppings and ask discreetly about the grazing herds in the area. The shepherds in the area, if properly approached can be of help, instead of sworn enemies.

I have not tried figs or pomegranate for the seeding projects you should try them - this year's pleasant surprise was the discovery that plums are a great tree for reforestation. I have come to appreciate this hardy tree, with its many varieties, and I plan to plant many of these, not just for reforestation, but for my farm.

Read through the thread, alot of good people have offered their experiences, and are sharing their work.

Please take plenty of photographs and videos and share what you are encountering.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Hans,

Good luck with the land purchase; what are your plans for the land - what condition is it in...weather wise, what are you facing?

Great idea on the hydro spade - is it homemade or store bought?


Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Jay and welcome,

Good luck - take photos of the land and give us updates as to what you discover works, and what does not work - failures have a lot to teach us...persistence!!!

You mentioned carobs and figs - it would be great if they work out as reforestation trees...let us know how it goes.

I recently planted some elaeagnus umbellata bushes, and I hope they will soon start producing, so I can try planting the seeds; let us know how the Russian olive does, and whether it will grow from seed.

You mentioned many interesting plants, I am anxious to find out how they do.

Good luck, keep us posted and let us know if we can help.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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UPDATE 1

This time of the year, I am in the process of buying or collecting seeds...I want to make sure I have more than enough to meet the 20,000 seeds in the ground yearly goal.

I collected about 1.5 kg plum seeds - they are all cleaned dried and stored in a cool place.  I hope the trees I collected them from, are productive and strong, so they will produce healthy new trees. I also ordered about 5 kg of plum seeds from Italy.

About 20 kg of apricots and 75 kg of almonds are in the works to be purchased soon.

Apple seeds and craetegus are also on the way from Italy.

In the next few weeks I will make an effort to collect about 1/2 kg of wild pear seeds...this is an extremely tough and drought tolerant tree...it can be easily grafted into pear trees, and its also fire resistant...I think... I know around here it, it has almost 100% survival rate. Its a great tree.

I collected about 250 laburnum seeds, and have about 1/2 kg from 2 years ago.

This may sound like a lot of work, but if you do this 2, 3 years, it becomes routine, and it does not take to much time.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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UPDATE 2

Seed Clay Cubes

I ran some simple tests, to examine if super hydro gels and zeolite can be used to improve the water retaining capacity of seed clay cubes (see Masanobu Fukuoka).

The use of seed clay cubes, is a great idea, and ultimately, it will be the way we will use to reforest this planet.

This year, I ran into a poblem. The weather in the winter and early spring , was unusually warm. It would rain, and then we got high temperatures, that dried out the cubes. Almost none of the seeds in the clay cubes sprouted, but the seeds in the ground did well. The ground holds moisture much better, than a clay cube, which is at the surface and exposed to the sun.

I purchased some super hydrogel and zeolite. The super hydro gel, is an amazing material. As advertised, take a spoon full of this material, and add 1 to 2 litters of water... the chrystals expand, and turn into thick clear soup. The material absorbs 200 to 300 times in water, and releases slowly for the trees or plants.

Unfortunately, it did not work for the clay cubes...it had no effect on their water holding capacity. The hydrogels are meant to be burried in the ground, and do not work well with the clay, exposed to the sun...it was a dissapointment.

The same with the zeolite... one cube was made with just clay, and other cubes were made with various percentages of zeolite...the zeolite did not hold water longer than the pure clay cubes.

The search goes on...

In the meantime, clay cubes will be made with 60% clay, 40% manure/compost, by volume and 20% of the total volume finely chopped straw for reinforcement.

If anyone has experience with clay cubes and other additives please let us know.

Kostas
 
Hans Quistorff
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Hello Hans,
Good luck with the land purchase; what are your plans for the land - what condition is it in...weather wise, what are you facing?
Great idea on the hydro spade - is it homemade or store bought? Kostas


The hydro spade we used to plant the fig branches was purchased but can be easily made to the size needed for the job. Select the diameter of steal pipe for the hole needed and the length for the depth desired. it needs to be threaded on one end where a tee is installed, an 8 to 12 inch extension is put into each side and one side is capped and tho other has a hose fitting or faucet to connect to water pressure.
The working end is made by pounding it flat. be sure to put some kind of spacer in the end to get a uniform 1/4 inch slit on the end. this will act as the spade as the water pressure comes out like a knife blade and digs the dirt to the side and washes it up the side and out the top.  Using the pipe extensions at the tee the spade can be rotated back and fourth 180 degrees to sweep more dirt to the side.
In sand or gravel the water may not come to the surface but stay in the ground, which is good to help start the rooting, but it will still push the dirt aside and make a rooting hole.
For trees that root easily from cuttings it is a labor saving device. It also can be used as a watering tool where the deep roots of the tree can be watered and the water is not on the surface to evaporate or sproute weed competition.

As for the property: 5 of my 10 acres I am not using. It is a mirror image of my farm, sloping south east with a small corner of the floodplain in the SE corner next to the road.  Tree growing is very easy here. We get rain 2 or 3 times a week from mid September until the 4th of July then we get very little rain all summer. The plums and apples/pears seed themselves from fruit that falls on the ground. Most of the not trees will also.
The permaculture property checklist is in the link in my signature. I am looking for some ants like they have at Wheaton Lab. You would not have to endure the Montana winter. We get one week of 10F nights in December and again in January.  PM me or use the contact form on the site if you are interested anyone?
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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UPDATE AUG 4th 2016

I rarely visit the seeding areas in the summer, because I know the young trees are stressed and some will die out…

I visited the area shown in the  
 

As expected, due to the hot summer weather, some trees are drying out… its part of the process, and there is nothing that can be done…the strong will survive and will be able to endure future drought.

See



Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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!!!
 
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Hello Kostas, hello everyone!

I wrote in Kostas Youtube video comments with "Giuseppina" account. As I said I like what you're doing and I'm doing something similar.

I live in North-Eastern Sicily where we have around 700 mm of rain per year with wet mild winters and three-four months (May/August) of hot and dry summer. What I've started doing around five years ago is planting trees on a South-facing hill at around 200 m of altitude. I started with few self-produced one year Stone Pine (Pinus pinea) seedlings which, if planted in the fall, don't need summer irrigation in this climate and produce edible nuts.

I continued with other trees and seeds and my aim is to plant, beside fruit trees, also wild trees that will be able to reproduce alone in this man-made seasonal grassland environment. Some trees I planted needed irrigation on their first summer to establish but then no more. Among these, two of my favourites are White Mulberry (Morus alba) and Service tree (Sorbus domestica). Very drought tolerant after first year, they provide fruits and shade.

Last autumn I sow some chestnut seeds but by mid-August they were all apparently dead. I will see if they resprout from the roots.

I think climate in Greece is driest so maybe Chestnuts or Downy oaks that here will grow without any help from seed, won't do there. Still I'd like to suggest you some trees...

Among others, I suggest you to try Stone Pine pinenuts that can be sown in Autumn. Quince tree is cold, heat and drought resistant and you can try with its seeds or, best, with some root suckers. I put one in the ground with almost no roots in the fall, cut it back and it survived all summer with no watering. Also put in the ground Fig tree cuttings in winter should be good and I red this on the forum yet toghether with Carob tree use. In winter I will try with Black Locust root cuttings. It can be invasive but it's really good for honey production. Here are some... I will try with almonds as you did this Autumn and much more... I always look plants around me and imitate nature along with looking for more plants for my climate on the Internet. So lot of experimentation... Then I'll let you know.

Thanks everyone for this forum! Thanks Kostas for your job!

Antonio

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
pollinator
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Thank You Antonio,

I will read very carefully what you wrote and will ask some questions soon.

Thank You very much,

Kostas
 
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