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How to grow 1000s of trees by yourself

 
William Horvath
Posts: 31
Location: Melbourne
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After doing some research about obtaining trees, it seems to me that the best option would be to grow it yourself. Well, at least at a smaller scale.

I wrote a post about how to start a small permaculture nursery and grow the trees yourself. Let me know if you found it useful.

Just wondering, at what point it becomes cheaper to outsource to nurseries?
 
sebastiaan roels
Posts: 15
Location: denmark
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thank you for the post and the article William !

I am also thinking of establishing a food forest, and yeah fruit trees don't come cheap but then again they re well worth the money
I guess for most people it s more a question of do you rather spend a bit more money or are you able to wait for a year or two longer
so I guess I ll be doing a bit of both, I ll invest a bit of money into buying fruit and nut trees and ill have a go at propagating some myself,
I also just ordered the book you recommended :p

have a nice day !
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I would suggest that it depends on whether you are planning on doing the work yourself, or whether you are doing a quick broadacre installation. In my limited experience there is a place for both approaches, but gradual transitions seem more common than rapidly transforming whole landscapes. the advantage of buying trees is that they are available NOW.

I've been gradually transitioning our garden area to permaculture food forest, putting in a few trees each year and mostly propagating my own plants - I have little free time and I'm not in a hurry. One thing I have found is that it is not much more time consuming to propagate 100 plants than it is to produce 2. I've struck big batches of currant bush cuttings for example and had very good success rates. With apple trees it is a little harder if you want known varieties, but you can use stooling to produce root stocks and grafting to get the variety.

If I wanted to produce 1000s of apple trees and had time to do it myself I would:

  • Buy 10 known root stocks that are well suited to your conditions and growing strategy - modern orchards seem to be growing dwarfing trees, but these need a lot of pampering and are not so well suited to typical permaculture strategies. I like something with a good root system so I don't need to water, and a strong enough structure that I don't need to stake it!
  • Plant the stools in good soil, thoroughly mulched with wood chip and allow to grow for 1 year
  • In winter cut to ground level
  • Put a large bucket or pot with the bottom missing over the stool and fill with damp sawdust
  • Allow to grow for a year - multiple stems will shoot and grow through the sawdust, rooting along their length
  • In winter remove the bucket and shake loose the sawdust, use sharp secateurs to remove the stems with their root systems in tact - you should get 10 or so new rooted apple root stocks per stool


  • You can either bench graft these apples, and plant them out, or just plant the root stocks and graft them in the field at the appropriate time of year.

    Using this approach you could establish 100 new apple trees per year - a lot more if you use your first crop of rooted stems to establish more stools. Time invested in this process is minimal... perhaps half a morning to plant the stools initially, an hour to cut and mound them up with sawdust, an hour to cut 100 odd rooted stems... perhaps half a day to graft them and plant them out. The slow bit is that all this work is scattered over a 2 year period! Over here it would cost me £5.00 per grafted tree or more so the hourly rate for doing it myself would be good, but I'd have to wait for them to be ready.
     
    John Wolfram
    Posts: 632
    Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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    Unfortunately, the article overlooks the main advantage of buying trees from commercial nurseries: TIME. If I buy a rootstock for $1, graft it, and then let it grow for two years I will have a tree that is roughly what Van Wells sells for $10 a tree. Sure, assuming every graft takes (haha) and neglecting the cost of my time to protect those little trees for two years, I will have saved $9 a tree. But, there is no question that tree is 2 years behind in growth so the question becomes what is the annual harvest from a 5 year old tree worth? In my opinion, if the answer is less than $4.50 ($9 for two years) I would seriously question growing that particular tree.
     
    Simone Gar
    Posts: 84
    Location: Alberta, zone 3
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    It's definitely a fun projects and potentially a source of income. I saved some apple seeds from apples I ate in summer. Planted them in fall and I am pretty sure 90% came up as I have a ton of little apple trees now! Totally amazing. I know the apples might not be good but I am just experimenting right now.

    I agree time is a big issue but I am going for a combination of buying bigger plants and growing from seed. The savings are unreal when growing from seed.
     
    Russell Olson
    Posts: 181
    Location: Zone 4 MN USA
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    Great article William!
    I stratified/started a few hundred nut/fruit tree seed this winter, total cost was around $100 for seed. A quick calculation of the trees(~700-800 trees x $4.00 a 12'' chestnut/hazel/pecan/apple rootstock/etc) I was able to produce comes to 3000 to 4000 dollars worth of trees for $100, I still have seed leftover too. The labor is inconsequential to me personally as it was a fun winter project.
    I used a similar tactic to the 5 gallon bucket method but started things off inside. Outdoors stratifying or direct seeding is definitely an easier choice if the seed can handle freezing.
     
    William Horvath
    Posts: 31
    Location: Melbourne
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    Thanks Michael for that small guide. I will try to propagate all my trees by myself, so this will be usueful.

    Sure time is an issue on this kind of projects. You either have time or money to buy time. If you have a source of income to speed up things, maybe it would be a good idea to outsource.


     
    Isabelle Gendron
    Posts: 173
    Location: Montmagny, Québec, Canada (zone 4b)
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    Good morning all,

    Here, again, I started almost all my apple trees in seeds. Some will be good to eat, others, for transfomration and others for the animals. I bought 4 apple trees and they all have hard times but the one I strated seems to less problems... As for current bushes this is amazing how easy it is to multiplicate. I just cut branches and plant them in the row of my garden. The year after, after winter, if they buds I trasplant them. And to be honest, I think I throw away only one tree... This method was a success with: black and red currents, juneberries, pimbina and hawthorn. I did cuttings from apple trees, plums, cherries and pears. Will see what happen with them during summer, but doesn,T seems to be has good. I also started honey locust and pseudo accacia in the garden. Nothing yet. I didn't stratify and I am starting to think I should have. ... Going to read your article. Thank you

    Isabelle
     
    Cris Bessette
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    Posts: 766
    Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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    Being the cheap and miserly guy I am., growing my own trees is one of my favorite things to do.

    One of the coolest things I found out is that cherry trees can grow from root suckers, so the two cherry trees that came with my property when I bought it have magically turned into a whole orchard of 10+ trees by simply stopping mowing around that area.
    Three or four of them are already fruiting at less than 3 years of age!

    In fact, I've basically stopped mowing the acre or so of my property that was open grassy area when I moved here, I go around a few times a year and cut or leave the seedling trees that come up on their own depending on what I want or need. This resulted in the cherry orchard mentioned above, but also dozens of American persimmon, Hawthorn, Black cherry, Sassafras, etc. Also black berries, wild grapes, other berries, wild herbs,etc.

    So just observing and culling/leaving can result in lots of useful trees and other useful plants.
     
    Isabelle Gendron
    Posts: 173
    Location: Montmagny, Québec, Canada (zone 4b)
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    You are absolutly right Cris. Unfortunatly (or fortunatly I don't know ) for cherry I have only the the wild ones. in french we call them ¨cerises à grappes¨ the small tanic cherries. SO I am working in findings new ones.

    isabelle
     
    Cris Bessette
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    Posts: 766
    Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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    Isabelle Gendron wrote:You are absolutly right Cris. Unfortunatly (or fortunatly I don't know ) for cherry I have only the the wild ones. in french we call them ¨cerises à grappes¨ the small tanic cherries. SO I am working in findings new ones.

    isabelle



    Yes, I have these too. I left a few to grow because they are good for attracting birds and insects, also, where I live it used to be common to make jellies and wines from these.
    I guess depending on how much room you have you might want to encourage a few ¨cerises à grappes¨.
    In my opinion, if the tree has some uses, and I have room, then I let it grow- free trees and no work!
     
    Isabelle Gendron
    Posts: 173
    Location: Montmagny, Québec, Canada (zone 4b)
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    Yes I do keep them. I tryed jelly and this year if I have time, I will try wine. I have a lot of native, wild trees and herbs since we have 35 hectares. So enough to try things and to let live

    Isabelle
     
    Tom Harner
    Posts: 89
    Location: St. Louis, MO
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    forest garden hugelkultur trees
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    William Horvath wrote:

    Sure time is an issue on this kind of projects. You either have time or money to buy time. If you have a source of income to speed up things, maybe it would be a good idea to outsource.




    Well said... some of us don't yet have enough of an income stream to funnel into these types of investments on scale. I can't wait until I do.
     
    Reya Steele
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    I think this forum highlights a real barrier to more people establishing food forests - accessing plants!

    I'm working on a project to address this need and you could take help!

    Grants for Plants is a new program being developed by Eden Regeneration Alliance to provide support to people wishing to establish new food forest systems. This project also has a research component to evaluate the potential benefits of investment in perennial crops. In exchange for Grants for Plants dollars (free perennial crops such as fruit trees, nut trees, berries, and other perennials) participants agree to complete the before survey as well as periodic surveys over the course of the project. Completion of surveys (after plants grants are received) will be rewarded with incentives including more plant grant dollars to purchase new fruit trees, nut trees, berries, and other perennials. Up to $500 in plants per site applicant will be available in the initial round with additional plant grant dollars offered as rewards for completing periodic surveys. Take our survey to express your interest. You can help show our investors their is a demand for this sort of support. Take the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FoodForest

    Thanks!
     
    William Bronson
    Posts: 1128
    Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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    I just took a survey. I think this could be a really great service and I can see it spawning permaculture nurseries.
     
    Reya Steele
    Posts: 13
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    Thanks William! I'm glad you see the value - and I agree with you there. The more people who complete this survey expressing interest, we are also stating our desire for a healthy sustainable food system. We have the simple solution and it is within our reach!

    More people growing perennials until, we suddenly don't need nurseries anymore because everyone is growing!
     
    Ferne Reid
    Posts: 86
    Location: SW Tennessee Zone 7a
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    I took a survey too. This would be awesome ... we have just purchased our land and are still in the process of getting to know it. So far the only fruit we've found is blackberries, and purchasing a lot of trees right off the bat isn't possible. What a jump start this would be!
     
    Regan Dixon
    Posts: 12
    Location: Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
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    One can propagate species once one has them, but I often have difficulty locating different varieties. I filled out the survey, but had to fill in a false location: although asks for state/province, the response menu only offers states, not provinces, and won't accept alternates, and won't accept blanks. I submitted a false response, just to give a notion of what sort of people might be interested, though I doubt I can take part in the programme.
     
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