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it's a jungle out there

 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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  Well I'm happy to report that the food forest gardens are growing by leaps and bounds on our property, healthy and thriving.

I have made a discovery this week that i found totally interesting.

I was chopping and dropping some of my rhubarb and horseradish leaves for mulch, and as i was disturbing the area i was overwhelmed by swarms of tiny little earwigs..so as a good researcher I came in and did a little research on earwigs..There were a few holes in some of the leaves of these plants, but as i had so many i was using them as a chop and drop mulch anyway, so holes or no holes, didn't much matter.

well in my earwig study I discovered that they are not only "bird candy" but that they also eat soft bodied insects like aphids and slugs/snails and others, but that they can also damage plants.

well i'm assuming that nature has been multiplying earwigs as a predator in my garden..however, there were a LOT of them..so the bird candy phrase was what was catching my eye.

I immediately gathered up 4 shepherds hoods and 4 tube bird feeders, and i hung bird feeders with sunflower seeds in them, right above the areas that had the biggest infestionts of earwigs..figure..my birds deserve a treat..so i'm going to put them to work to clean up the newly rampant earwig population..at least they'll keep them under control

i figured that all the mulch and rotting stuff in my garden became a lovely home for the earwigs..and now it will be a lovely snack bar for my birds
 
Jami McBride
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Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
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Excellent idea Brenda, let me know if it works out and I may give it a try on my sow bugs!
 
Brenda Groth
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Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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in my research i came across some info on sow bugs too, supposedly they are also predators..you might want to find out what they are actually eating in your garden.

i have seen a LOT of birds hanging out where i put those feeders both on the feeders and on the ground where the plants are that have the earwigs.

 
                    
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We got some produce from the organic farmers market last year & found a lovely green caterpillar in it, we put it in a jar & took care of it until it hatched.

My daughter was quite confused when her caterpillar hatched out & became a wasp.
We figure that the organic farm is using them a natural control. 

I thought sow bugs were good to have around?
Do they cause problems for you?
 
Jami McBride
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Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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Wow, a wasp - that would be shocking!

All I've read about sow bugs thus far indicated that they are both 'good' and 'bad', bad especially when they reach really large numbers (like most things I would assume).

I have really large numbers of sow bugs and earwigs and ants (which bring aphids).  My ducks take care of everything else.  These are the only pests I have, because they are small and hide out in the rocks and brinks I use around my beds and such.  In small numbers they can be helpful, but in large numbers I think juicy plants are an attraction.

It's hard for me to use DE in the summer because it's so hot and I have to water often.
I do try to keep some lizards around, but that is also very hard as my cats seem to have a radar for them.  I should limit my cat numbers and increase my lizard count 

I am always amazed at all your able to do Brenda.  Your place just sounds incredible, maybe you can post some pics sometime - enjoy your jungle!
 
                    
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Hi Jami,

I bet if you were to turn loose a bunch of kindergartners with bug jars in your yard & then say"Oh look a bunch of rolie-polie bugs" at the end of the day there would be a lot less.

We seem to constantly be keeping jars of sow bugs around here.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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well the feeders seem to be working well, the bird population in my gardens have increased tremendously (as a matter of fact they would prefer i leave the garden to them now i think, they scold me when i come around the garden).

I'm not going to eat their bugs !!

I have some photos on my facebook, here is some i took yesterday but it is mostly roses and flowers
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=24262&id=1846485863&l=9ba86ebd35

here are two other links to photos i took in June
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=23388&id=1846485863&l=eac57c03d0
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=23386&id=1846485863&l=500c304934
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=22539&id=1846485863&l=e05859fdc6

my food forest gardens are tiny babies..i took some photos recently of the baby trees but haven't yet posted them on my photo albums, maybe i'll get to that later today
 
Brenda Groth
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Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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here is a link to some pictures of the baby baby trees in my gardens..just a few, as they aren't really much to look at, the ones that aren't totally swamped by other plants were the easiest ones to photograph, the first ones being a few baby hazelnuts as well as my 3 baby walnuts (carpathian, black walnut and butternut), in the beds are 6  baby hazelnuts, 3 tiny tiny baby mulberries, 4 baby wild plums, 3 baby apple dwarfs, 3 baby pear superdwarfs, 2 baby sour cherries, a tiny paw paw, 2 tiny chestnuts, 2 tiny serviceberries, and a lot of baby black, gold and red raspberries, blackberries, 9 baby blueberries, large fruit hawthorne, buffalo berry..and a lot lot lot of annual vegetable babies..

remember my gardens have only been in a few weeks here in Michigan, so nothing much is very impressive..i do have a few baby tomatos on my plants now though !!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=24270&id=1846485863&l=fcadcee02a
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9459
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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About how far apart are the baby trees planted, Brenda?

 
Brenda Groth
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Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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the 3 walnuts (carpathian, black and butternut) are planted about 30 feet apart just off the south edge of a woods made of mostly aspen and maple with some wild cherry and alder..the woods is fairly large but i knew the nuts would need some sunshine so they are off the edge of the woods about 20 to 25 feet (although woods is irregular) ..so they will be just outside the woods

it is hard to tell  in the photographs..but 25' south of the 3 baby walnut trees is where the actual food forest garden encloser begins..
the NORTH line of this garden is a hedgerow of 4 wild plum trees (about 8 feet apart each)..and then to the east of there the hedge extends to 6 hazelnut trees about 16
feet apart with 3 baby mulberries between, so they are 8'..the mulberries will grow taller than the hazelnuts (dwarf american hazelnuts)..and most of the mulberry shade will go to the north, so they won't really shade anything, except an open trail between there and the walnuts and woods north of there.

south of the hazelnut, wild plum and mulberry hedge is the rest of the garden in some different sections..

on the west..there is a hedge that goes from north to south, and it has blackberries on the north and red, gold and black raspberries on the south, with onme buffalo bery and one large fruited hawthorn in this hedgerow..there are two tiny chestnut trees on the west, but onlly one has leaves although a scratch of the bark of the other shows green is still there..it might live..those chestnuts would likely cast a bit mnuch shade on the raspberries, but they can handle some shade..

to the EAST of the berry hedge, are 3 separate circle beds..and a smaller bed north of there but south of the wild plum hedge..

about 8' south of the wild plums is a cole and tomato bed with a few potatoes and then there is another path about 4' wide..south of that..and then there are a series of 8' circle beds with 4' paths around, and in the center of each of the 8' beds is a no ladder dwarf apple tree, one is sweet 16, one is snow and one is braeburn..planted around them are vegetables, tomatoes, peas, coles, yarrow, etc.

to the EAST of this set of 3 circle beds on the NORTH end about 8' south of the hazelnut/mulberry hedge, is another 4' path and then there are 4 curved beds about 6' wide that surround a circle lawn with a scarelet canadian cherry in the center of the yard..each one of the beds ...that is 6' wide..is around a 16' circle bed, with a 4 to 6 foot path going off N S E and W..and there are metal arches on the E and W and a woodenn swing, arbor on the south..I am going to put the swing on an arbor on the North, so that will be moved when i can get someone to cut up the other telephone poles for me into 8' lengths to make the second arbor..which will be directly north of the other one..oppostie across from the red leaf cherry tree..

the north two curved beds are east and west of where the new arbor is going to go..there is a dwarf pear centered in each of those beds, and there is a lavender lilac on either side of the path, a climbing rose and a grapevine (seedless) taht will go up over the arbor..and on the far end of each of these beds is a tiny baby  Goumi..there is probably 8' on either side of each dwarf pear, they wont' get very tall..there are 3 varieties..there is also a dwarf pear in the western curved bed south of these two, and another goumi, ..each of these three beds has some jerusalem artichokes along the outside of the bed, and therre are flowers, herbs, and some summer squash, tomatoes, and other things in these beds..as well.

the 4th curved bed continues south for an additional 16' beyond the swing arbor, so it is larger than the other 3 curved beds..by a lot....this bed has a tiny baby goumi on the north, and then there is a baby paw paw south of that (that probably won't live as it is on it's zone edge here) ..there is a mountain ash near the swing arbor and there are climbing roses and grapes on either side of the arbor, to go up the arbor, and then south of the arbor in this longer part of the bed is a dwarf sour cherry and a lot of rhubarb and iris, there is also about 30 or 40 asparagus plants in these beds..

between those, there are two rectantular beds, south of the SW curved bed, these are about 6' wide and 8' long..the north one has the matching dwarf sour cherry in it with a few more jerusalem artichokes, some carrots and some onions and a few summer squash..the bed south of that has potatoes, beans, corn and some melons on the corners.

south of this entire mess about another 8 to 10 feet, is another hedge that goes east to west..and it has 9 blueberry bushes, one creeping wintergreen, 2 service berry trees and a small patch of horseradish.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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all my other fruit and nut trees are in other areas of the property..up behind the house i have 2 sweet cherries, and around the drainfield garden are 6 apple trees, one full size and 5 dwarfs, 2 of those are pole type.

to the east of the house are 3 dwarf pear trees, one is a 5 in one and the other two are Ayers, in the beds in the front of the house are 3 hardy peach trees, reliance, fingerlakes and ..hmmm can't remember the other name right now.

there is also a halls hardy almond and a fruit cocktail tree along the front of the house.

there are 2 areas of grapes in the front yard..100 plus year old grapes over a metal trellis and others were on a trellis but i removed that so right now they are laying on the ground..bad me.

there were 2 hickory nuts but one died, so there is one, by the garage west..and there is a plum under the edge of the huge ash out in front (yes it gets sunshine for a long time as the limbs of the ash are really high up. There are also more black raspberries east of the garage..and there are elderberries in the front yard and 3 by the pond..therewere 2 hardy pecans in the woods, but they weren't hardy enough, they died..

so i guess that pretty much says where my fruit and nut trees are now..there are also 2 self seeded apple trees one in the woods and one by the pond
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9459
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Thank you for all those details Brenda.  Very impressive! 

Do you have a good survival rate from your plantings?  I have tried so many things here which have died, because it is so dry (Central Texas).  I have to work harder at improving the rain harvesting ability of the soil.

I get the impression that people in the north and east and Cascadia, can just stick plants in the ground and they automatically grow - but I'm probably seeing the grass as (literally) greener somewhere else!  I know folks in those regions have their own challenges from cold, bugs, diseases, etc. 
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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Ludi - for me in the Cascadia region (which is still diverse in it's own specific areas) we do not get rain in the summer and so planting during that time can be dicey, especially for trees.  It's best to plant young trees in the fall around here to guarantee deep watering and protection from strong sun exposure.  One tip I've used that makes a big difference when I have to plant in the summer time is to use shade screen or solid object to block some of the sun and give the plant/tree time to get established before removing.



I'm curious Brenda about how to get things that love the sun to grow in forest gardens?  Maybe you have some ideas on this.... How are you dealing with your sun loving plantings?

My urban yard is very shady, no single area gets full sun, and growing many things, not the least of which are veggies, is a struggle.  However, on the plus side keeping mint, bamboo and other run away plants under control is easy - when you limit their sun and have acidic soil 

 
Brenda Groth
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Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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We have plenty of rain here in the spring generally, so we do plant most of our trees and shrubs in the spring. If we plant in the fall, often, things will die as they don't have enough time to grow good solid roots before winter and we would then get winter kill.

As for sunshine, right now the plants are so small that there isn't really any problem with sunshine. When the plants are larger, the sunlovers will go elsewhere. I have a lot of property here and there are a lot of sunny spaces. The south edges of all of my gardens have sunny areas, so I probably will never run out of sun spaces. I do try to put things that are permanent in areas where the eventual growth of the plants will do no harm..but most of my plants are basically "on wheels". I move things a lot around here.

Perennials have a tendency to grow really fast and need divisions within 5 to 6 years or less, so most of the perennials are dug and moved at least that often, unless of course they don't require moving. And of course the annuals go in wherever there is a proper spot for them each year. This year around the baby fruit and nut trees were ideal places for my annual vegetables. There is a place up by my house where i have to be removing the greenhouse from as I am going to relocate it, after that is done i'm going to build a salad garden there with the salad greens on the shady side and the sunlovers on the sunnier side..so that area will be opening up for sunlovers that will need regular attention, only 5 ft away from my kitchen door. With most of the trees ..fruit ones anyway, being dwarfs or superdwarfs..so they will cast very little shade when they are fully grown, but right now they cast basically none.

I actually have 4 acres of non improved nearly open field yet that can be put to sun lovers whenever i need space to expand...but at this point I am honestly attempting to reforest it slowly, right now mostly spotted with evergreens and a few alder trees. And one thing i do realize is that i do really love shade and shade loving plants,  I also have 2 large clearings in the woods area that evventually will be developed into something..not sure what yet at this point.
 
Jami McBride
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Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
25
books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
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So  it sounds like "know your area and it's weather" for success with planting.  I Googled planting trees in hot Texas and found advise that said never plant during hot dry weather.    You know that applies here in Oregon too 

Thanks for the info on sunny spots and forest gardening - all I need is more land!
 
Brenda Groth
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Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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well use of dwarfs and super dwarfs is helpful too if you are layering in fruit and nut trees and need to keep some of your sun around.

I guess I definately know the weather here as i have lived in the same general zonal area for 59 years, so I have experienced it. On this same property for going on 40 years now.

Every tree on our  property except for 4, have either been planted by me or by nature, as the ones that were here when we moved here , other than the 4, have all died and been replaced and a lot of the older aspens in the back woods were pulped out many years ago. However, they grow from "roots" so they have all grown back from the roots of what was left, or birds have brought them in.

2 catastrophies have also changed our landscape seriously as also giving an acre of food forest/tree forest to our son for his house, that had to be cleared for his house and drainfield to go in.

So other than the forest in the rear and the few trees along our property lines that we put in several years ago and 2 large trees in our front yard and 2 in our back yard, all the other trees are less than 8 years old (on our property anyway). We were able to salvage nearly allt he trees along our property line, that I had put in many years ago, but almost all of the centrally located trees, between the forest and the property lines, were lost during the reconstruction after the fire.

we called that starting over "the year of mud" but actually it was more like 2 years of mud and struggle, and then another year of mud and struggle when our Son had to clear the land 3 years later for his place.

Lightening struck our 100+ year old house and when we moved in our double wide we put it 40' back farther  on the property from where the old house was, leaving that area ravaged. an area of property had to be cleared for the house and to bring it in, as well as for the huge raised drainfield, and our pond was dug at the same time taking fill dirt from our field. At the time our food forests were on the other side of our garage and a large woods that we had planted ..which is now nearly all gone. The fruit trees that were in the food forest did not survive trying to move them except one crabapple pole tree that is still alive and doing well. Altthough it is good having our son now living beside us and his property now beginning to take some sort of shape in the 3 years he has been here, it was quite a blow to us to have to start over 3 times.
Sometimes you realize though through give and take what is more important to you, as we grow old, having our son next door is a real blessing. And the trees will grow again. My  husband sunk into horrible deep depression both after our housefire and after seeing the woods and food forests destroyed when our son moved in. but the replanting is now starting to fill in, as the title of this original post refers to, what was only  4 years ago basically starting over, now is beginning to look like a jungle again. Just shows what can be done with determinationm and time.
 
                                
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Location: Savannah, GA
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Ludi-
Here's an idea you might be able to adapt - my MIL had a house in the Mohave desert where she had to truck water in. She planted dwarf fruit trees in 55 gal drums sunk into the ground. This held the water in where the roots were. She also planted them fairly close together so as a group they held some humidity in the air. They were quite successful.

What about planting some short lived shrubs to improve the soil and shade it a bit and then plant a tree in the middle.
 
                            
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Location: Vancouver Island, BC
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Brenda, I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I notice in your photos that you have Bishop's Weed growing in your garden.  I'm wondering if you have a secret to keeping it contained?  It's pretty invasive around these parts (PNW).  Thanks!
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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that's OK Rosie, it is aegopodium, sometimes called Bishops weed, yes and I love it. I grow it under the trees where not much else will grow, to keep the lawn mowing down.

I pile up the pine needles and leaves that fall off of each tree under their driplines, and then plant a division or two in each area and then let them go, and yup, they'll completely fill in the area in 3 or 4 years. They do tend to swamp out smaller plants when they run rampent through the garden, so i tend to remove anything that is too small or fragile that might end up in it's  path ..but it is a wonderful and edible groundcover.

it won't go past a mown area, so it stays pretty much out of the lawn, but it will come a small way into the lawn until it is mowed over, and then it just kinda submits.

most of my gardens have only pretty tough perennials, shrubs and trees, so the aegopodium is fairly well behaved..i use other very invasive plants as well. You  will also see the ribbon grass in some of the photos, this is a special cream and sugar one that has a tad of pink in it and it stays in big clumps rather than getting whimpy like the "gardeners garters" does. I also use ajuga, which spreads like wildfire, strawsberries and wild strawberries, vinca, pachysandra, violets, missouri primrose, and others.

i have a fairly large property, and so invasives as peoplellike to call them, opportunistic i prefer, are special plants to me, as they cover the ground up quickly and make less mowing for me.

LUDI, Have you  ever read GAia's GArden ? There is a lot of area in there about growing in desert areas, very very interesting. Also you might want to check out the phamplets of permaculture by Bill Mollison, there is a section ..one phamplet on desert growing..and one on low island growing that would also be helpful.

they are a very good read and can be found on the scribs site with a search of "permaculture"
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9459
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Thank you for those suggestions, CBostic and Brenda.  I have "Gaia's garden" but need to review it.  My main problem I think has been not preparing the soil enough when planting.  I've tended to just put things in the ground and hope for the best.  I need to do earthworks, mulch, etc more diligently.  Laziness doesn't pay!    I've started implementing hugelkultur which I think will solve most of the problems.
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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if I remember right, when they prepared to plant in the desert they brought in things to shade the soil first..like rocks and logs and anything that would grow and bring in shade..and things that would gather water, like rock mulches. And then they used those things to be protection for each plant, expanding on that outward as they grew things.

in the permaculture book if i remember right, they also established some plants with a protected area and then they would expand outward from that particular planting area.

i have done similarly here..establishing areas and then expanding on them..but i can see more of a need in areas that have a brutal climate.

also there was the mention of the underground garden where they dug pits to plant their trees in..i guess this gives not only shade and wind protection but a place for the water to run in to.

in my opinion the best advice i have seen recently has come in the 2nd edition of Gaia's Garden. I think if it was me in the desert, which I know very little about, i would try to find the shadiest spot and start there, routing as much moisture as i could to that area..and then build on that. maybe the shady side of your house would be a good starting point.

I was also wondering if you could bring in some rocks or walls or fences to cast some shade and protect your young plants, maybe a movable fence or wall taht could be moved as it has done it's juob and is no longer needed?? Also what about aybe a lattice screenhouse, or arbor, to bring in some overhead shade?
 
                            
Posts: 32
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
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Thanks for the Bishop's weed tips, Brenda--we're new to this garden, so I will take a closer look at my options and consider your advice.  End of hijack--sorry! 
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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hey that's ok, i would never encourage anyone to use something that might damage their place, like the aegopodium could depending on your climate and conditions..however, it is rather tame here so i'm not concerned about it. A lot of the "so called invasives" behave very well here, some however do misbehave and i kick myself for planting them..like bittersweet !!
 
Al Senner
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Location: southeast SD (zone 4b/5a)
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About 4 years ago, most people in my area had no idea what an earwig was. Then we had 2 years of plague like proportions(they were even talking about it on the news) and since then we have been seeing less every year. Maybe they have a cyclical life cycle in your area as well.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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