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Agroforestry in Western Michigan

 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1266
Location: Central New Jersey
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If you were going to do a multipurpose permaculture style agroforestry planting in Western Michigan, what trees would be on your planting list?
 
chad Christopher
Posts: 290
Location: Pittsburgh PA
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More details. Do you own land, or is this hypothetical. Have you asked local farms?
 
John Wolfram
Posts: 613
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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Also, how close is the land to lake Michigan? Western Michigan can go from USDA zone 6b to 4b in about 30 miles.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1266
Location: Central New Jersey
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Hypothetical at present. trending toward Allegan county, but that gives some range, as it starts at the lake and heads east. Looking for a sense of the broad pallete of useful trees and while I have thoughts I want to hear other people's opinions too.
 
Ray Moses
Posts: 70
Location: Brighton, Michigan
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All of the traditional fruit trees and grapes that grow in that region commercially, Black and a carpathean walnut, Chinese and colossal chestnut, hazelnut, Persimon Paw Paw, nut pines, A variety of native and introduced perennial fruit bearing shrubbery.
 
Mike Cantrell
Posts: 530
Location: Mid-Michigan
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The Fruit Coast can handle just about anything you'd like. Apples, blueberries, and grapes are big-time commercial endeavors over there.
 
Troy Rhodes
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Lots of choices. I live in cass county, sw michigan.

If you're looking at property, test the soil pH. It varies widely. Mine routinely measure 8.3 to 8.4--quite alkaline. I was hoping for scads of blueberries, but it takes heroic and long term work to get the pH below 6. A 10 or 15 dollar pH pen can give you a critical piece of information in five minutes. Throw a handful of soil into a quart jar. Fill with distilled or RO water. Shake and let stand for 5 minutes. Dip your pH pen in there and presto, instant pH. I have found the pH paper to either be unreliable, hard to interpret and not fine enough resolution.

Do you want food, fuel, building materials, fiber, livestock fodder, nitrogen, nurse trees, land restoration, breeding new/healthy/robust varieties, shade, medicine??

In addition to many of the already mentioned, I also am growing northern pecan (the queen of nuts in my opinion), hybrid poplar (fuel wood experiment), willow (basketry, medicine, animal fodder, the premier charcoal ingredient for gunpowder, swamp remediation, etc)


carry on.

troy
 
chad Christopher
Posts: 290
Location: Pittsburgh PA
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Troy hit the nail on the head to anything I would mention. Wood fuel is fairly important. Dave Jacke has a good book on coppiced fire wood, with an emphasis on nitrogen fixing trees. If you are looking for a profit, look into unusual cold hardy fruits. The forgoten edible dogwood. There seems to be a large demand for cedar around the lakes, funny how water resistant lumber grow where they're needed most. Boat building woods. Look into berries that produce off your local season. Having them early, or extra late brings big bucks, and I'd imagine, some interest biodiversity when your the only source for wildlife. I haven't seem anyone mention a juniper, if your property has the diversity it needs, pests shouldn't be an issue, another upper hand in the ever declining juniper supply recently. The largest problem I have noticed, is that most people are looking for income. And trees grow slowly. Good news is, if your planting trees, I'm going to assume there is not an established forest. There are great high calorie, high demand, low supply berries and fruits, that are quick growing woody shrubbery. Most of these are great succession perennials, and will continue to flourish on the edges of said planed forest areas. Not the easiest to harvest, but that's why the price is high. Don't forget wood for mushies, if that's something you would like to do, either selling inoculated logs, or selling produce. Also the obvious, if you are doing a agroforestry, acorns, berts, pine fodder. Wildcrafting, basket woods, basket needles, ect. Medicine, hazel, blahity blah. Maple stands. Wildgrapes....then later chop and graft to prevent them from becoming invasives. Cold hardy kiwis and edible fast growing, thin sumac do great together. Depending on the size of the property, and if you are hunter friendly, plant a deer plot, surround it with thornies, so they stay put. If you are a meat eater, you are basically creating a small inpromtue deer farm. Well fed, lazy deer.
 
chad Christopher
Posts: 290
Location: Pittsburgh PA
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Oh yea, fishermen. Pm me if you want to know how to make some good bait growing woodland trenches. I kinda have the niche market in my area and don't want to publicly broadcast my technique. It can be done via mail. It's not illegal to ship soil and bugs, if they are being used for bait.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1266
Location: Central New Jersey
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In our search for a property, we are looking at currently forested properties, which appear to be consistently less expensive than already cleared areas in the region where we are looking. In the event that we land on an already forested property, the process will involve a thorough survey of what we have, what condition it is in, what we will definitely want to keep, what we will want to take out, and what we will want to introduce or add more.

I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the potential products, niches, functions, benefits that we would want a forest to provide us with and/or provide for its own needs, in terms of things like fruit, nuts, timber, craft materials, notrogen fixers, mushroom substrate/environment, syrup, windbreaks, "nurse trees".

Thinking in terms of what grows well in our target area that we can plug in to provide various elements of the list of functions. And part of what I am getting here is that pretty much anything I think of as temperate will work. Subtropical, not so much

I need to check what ph requirements serviceberries have. Thanks Troy for bringing up the Ph question, I had not realized the area might vary so dramatically and that is an excellent point to have in mind.

At the other end, we might find ourselves with a parcel that has been clear cut but not cleared for conventional farming and there we would probably be looking at more substantial plantings and probably some more variety to be planted. And we might end up with something that we have to convert from conventional field farming (probably my least desired option).
 
Ray Moses
Posts: 70
Location: Brighton, Michigan
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Serviceberry does not have any special requirements, I have them planted and they are much easier to grow them blueberries We have a rather large group of producers in Michigan the grow serviceberries, look up the Saskatoon berry Institute of Michigan.
 
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