here are my general rules of thumb
Quality AND Quantity of inoculant microbes are important
weather using shop or soil from near roots of healthy tree ....fresh is best.....storage in fridge may be ok for soil.....shop stuff is usually stored in fridge
some trees are more fussy than others BUT not all strains of microbes will give the best nitrogen fixing potential
never use chlorinated tap water with microbes it will kill them
there may or maynot be a "commercial" inoculate for a tree species
if using a slurry of commercial microbes i use the tip of a knife or similar to handle/plant seeds so not to rub off with fingers
if making soil balls i would use the least additives .....none if possible to the microbe rich soil and use next day ........fridge could be used........don't let dry too much......need to bury it to protect microbes (ie do not place on surface)
this is only an example of a method as a baseline
this link looks good!!!.....................other refs at end!
this link looks god too
this link is a bit scientific but may hold some nuggets of wisdom
Its a good starting point for me to investigate microbes etc.
I try the local Walnut at 10 meters elevation and at around 100m elevation. The problem are our 7 month long summers and it does not survive the first 2/3 years unattended. Then it lives for a massive amount of years but starting it is really the problem here.
My 2 year old almonds are around 40 cm and have vigorous growth, which made me very happy. Here I have 2 problems with small tender plants. They resolve around rabbits. Rabbits eat the fresh growth and the rabbit hunters that are careless abd trample on everything. I found the best to plant loads of almonds under existing almond trees and then replanting after 1 year. This gives a massive success rate and one has to appreciate we have only 30cm or rain annually here.
Olives _ I never managed myself but I noticed a few things and asked around. 1 we have a blackboard called starting that eat the Olive, then rest on the grown almonds and every year I found at least one small Olive to replant. 2 the old saying is to cut the olives, feed it to the chickens and then pick up once it passed through the digestive tract. My old uncle says success is close to 100%.as always summer is the killer here. I have a total of 5 or 6 grown from the Bird droppings which were grafted this year by my father to Olive bearing trees.
The carob tree might be after digestion from the rabbits as they are in the rabbit area I will test again this year and keep you posted. If it succeeds I will send seeds.
I am going to try pines but I am highly sceptic as planting trees that do not bear fruit. My philosophy is local if possible and trees that will give me something back.
Any ideas with the best irrigation technique to use considering a very small wry of water?
One big question... what is the best type of mulch to use in these ultra dry conditions?
My experience with walnuts is that they do well high elevations (1000 meters)…at low elevations they are not a good candidate for easy reforestation/ground cover…
As mentioned before in this thread, I have the same issue with wild rabbits…they eat but do not destroy the young trees…
Can you verify the information with the olives and chickens…can you (or someone close by) feed some chickens with olives, take at least 10 olive pits and place them in the ground and see how many sprout and how many survive --- and let us know…The olive tree can be a great tree for a food forest…its drought resistant, and can survive fires!!!
I am sure capers are everywhere in Malta, as well as cactus pears…
Pine trees from seed, do not survive the summers very well, at low elevations..they need watering the 1st summer at least…I had many grow from seed, only to see them die in August.
No irrigation, and no mulch…if you plant trees close together (every 1 meter) when they grow, the will give plenty of shade and mulch to plant other trees…you want to have at least 5 trees or shrubs or perennial plants for ground cover…the more the better.
You should try all the trees we mentioned here almonds, apricots, plums, apples, crataegus, wild pear, cactus pads etc …test them and see what works for your area…see what propagates naturally around you, and use.
Keep us posted on the carob trees, olive trees etc
about 20 years ago i grew carobs from seed for a small forage orchard here are my tips
pour boiling water over seed to soften seed coat (as with most legumes)
seeds are EXTREMELY sensitive to soil fungus attack and most( if not all) will not germinate. i used fungicide (fungarid brand) on soil touching the seeds with good results. otherwise heat treat (microwave?)a handfull or two of "soil" for planting in the field.
i would use 5 to 10 seeds per location (spaced slightly) and kill weak ones in the second year
if you can use a bit of fertiliser to boost early growth.
my favorite book (VERY GOOD) on carob is - Growing carobs in Australia / by Henry W. Esbenshade and Geoff Wilson
here is an online article book https://rirdc.infoservices.com.au/downloads/98-008
Fungi will attack the carob seed and germinating carob seedling. The fungi of importance in
• Rhizupus nigricons and Mucor hiemalis which will cause carob seed rot preventing the
germination of seed; and
• Rhizoctinia solani and Fusarium species will kill germinating seedlings.
Grazing animals may damage immature plants by browsing the growing tip. When this
occurs the plant must be replaced as it will never renew a vigorous main leader. When
mature, stock browsing of the lower branches does not seriously harm the carob (Esbenshade
& Wilson 1986).
3.7 Propagation techniques
Carobs are traditionally direct seeded in the autumn or early spring (Esbenshade and Wilson
(1986). The seeds may be:
• Pre-soaked in water and planted to a depth of 5 cm; or
• Pre-germinated and planted to a depth of 2.5 cm where supplementary irrigation is
In Spain, the entire pod is usually fed to livestock and stock manure is then buried in the
fields. The carob seed, which is undigested by the livestock, sprouts directly from the
With the above techniques, care must be taken to protect the seedling from frost and grazing
animals. Particular care must be taken during establishment as the carob seed is susceptible to
Due to the susceptibility of carob seedlings to disease, grazing animals and environmental
factors, nursery production and subsequent transplanting is the method preferred by the
The preferred greenhouse production time is during early spring and autumn, when
temperatures are not extreme. To aid germination and to break seed dormancy, the seeds are
scarified by soaking for 1 hour in concentrated sulphuric acid and then thoroughly washed
and soaked in water at room temperature for 24 hours. According to Esbenshade and Wilson
(1986), this process obtains the greatest germination rates, although germination is still below
40%. Soil sterilisation to prevent fungal infection may double the seedling survival rate.
Alternatively, Gebhardt (1996) prefers soaking seed in hot water (about 80o
C) for 4 hours and
collecting the seeds that have swollen for planting. This treatment is repeated for the seeds
that have not begun to swell.
Seeds are sown into germination trays or directly into individual containers (and transplanted
into larger containers before the tap root is restricted by the container). Transplanting from
small individual containers will usually occur at the second true leaf stage.
Roots grow between 2 and 5 times the length of the above ground shoots. Care must be taken
to prevent root damage, particularly ‘J’ rooting, which will slow growth rates in the field.
Esbenshade and Wilson (1986) state that no procedure has been developed which will
prevent damage of the taproot prior to field planting.
Capers and Cactus are all around me. I have a decent amount on my property and do not need any more as I will not have enough food mix.
Regarding to pears we do not seem to have a solid wild pear in Malta. One fruit is similar which I can think of and it fruits in April to May.
As for the Olives I am pretty sure if the technique. Last year I did not have 1 Olive from 40 trees because of too much wind and absolutely no rain. But I am pretty sure of the technique as my uncle used it.
're the carob I will test again this year and keep you posted.
Our problem is the hot and long summer. If this continues without me planting I fear we will become a desert. My aim is to make a good forest to sustain life and slow the desertification process. We have built all the rubble walls in our property or are in the process of and this acts like a awake to stop water and soil run off. Also we till the land parallel to the contours as this create a awake and increases water retention.
Figs are also good here but I have no idea how to start from seeds. Here we use cuttings.
Apples the local variety grow very well but tend to rot in winter every few years but regrow naturally. I suspect this happens as mine are planted in clay and it gets water logged in winter. This year I planted a few in better soil with no clay and will see the difference.
The key is water but that is expensive and very scarce.
Regarding the mulch. Do you try to put something for thr small trees? I never did and I suspect I need to give more water for this reason. The traditional way is rocks but they get hot as he'll and radiate heat even in the night in summer so I doubt they are good ideas but it's what they had.
Thank You…this is by far the most extensive collection of info, I have seen on this fantastic tree. It’s a bit discouraging, that the seeds are so sensitive to fungus attack…I am hoping that we can use this tree for reforestation!!!
As with all the collection of seeds I am trying to put together, for the reforestation of the areas here, it is important that the seeds be very resilient.
In other words, if we place wild pear (Pyrus pyraster) in a clay cube, the seed will survive all kinds of hardship, and grow into a tree (high success rates around here); they survive long hot summers without watering, and I do not know of any diseases that affect them.
Whatever scarification we do on the carob seed (let's say hot water), we need to make sure that once the seeds dry up and are placed in a clay cubes, or on the ground, they will survive and grow into a trees…with more than 40% success rate, without assistance.
We may create nurseries and grow large quantities of seedlings to be planted in the ground…here again the young trees need to survive without water.
Last week, I treated about 100 carob seeds with hot water and placed them in the ground on the island of Crete, where it seems the Carob trees like to grow. We will see how it goes.
If you have any trees or shrubs in Australia that meet the requirements that we have, let us know.
The friends in Crete mentioned the shrub/tree prunus spinosa…I just got some seeds in the mail today, and I will try them.
For each arid/bare region we try to reforest, it would be nice if we have at least 10 trees/shrubs or perennial plants to get started.
Again Thank You for the extensive Information.
Mulch…yes plenty around young trees to conserve the moisture, especially the 1st summer..the more the better (30 to 50 cm and about 1 meter wide)…be careful, sometimes creatures like to use the shade (do you have poisonous snakes in Malta ? If you can, seed and establish alfalfa on a piece of land, and use it for mulch
Figs…the birds propagate them well…I have not done it yet… Tj Lees in this thread, discussed growing figs from cuttings (just stick in the ground-just about now), and they will grow (see https://permies.com/t/400/14353/Reforestation-Growing-trees-arid-barren)…again here it would be nice if fig seeds can be incorporated in clay cubes, and have good survival rates.
Do the apple trees grow wild (by the side of the road) in Malta from seed?
The wild pears mentioned are the Pyrus pyraster…I am sure they grow in Malta…if not I can send you some.
It's easy to reforest an area, by seeds…even a small area of let's say 500 square meter…it will only take an hour or two to place closely spaced seeds…in the spring you will see trees growing, and most will survive…in 10 - 15 years time you will have a mini forest !!! that simple. In a previous post in this thread, there is a picture of a tool I use for seed placement..it's a simple tool.
It will be fantastic if the olive trees and carob trees work out !!!
Please keep us posted
Maybe they sprout easilier than cultivated olives, because there is a selection towards sexual reproduction? Or because they are more likely to be swallowed by birds?
They could still be grafted later on if good fruits are required.
@Kostas: did you try Prunus cerasifera instead of P. spinosa? I think it grows in dryer places, (depending on the origin/ecotype).
P. cerasifera, is commonly used as a rootstock for plums. There are some selections with sweet and great tasting fuit. Of P. spinosa I do not know of any selections edible fresh.
I do not remember if you tried Crataegus azerolus, or any other Crataegus. There start to be many posts in this forum, and I am too lazy to read them again.
Glad to hear about the olives in Morocco…I am hopeful we will find a way (if there is a way).
Yes this year, I seeded many crataegus monogyna seeds…we will see how it does…I hope it works out !!! If I can get my hands on other varieties of crataegus, I will seed them next year.
We have tried Mirabelle plums, and whatever varieties of plums grow around here…I am optimistic that plums will do well…the earth will make the choice, and we will listen!!!
The prunus cerasifera sound interesting…maybe next year.
Wild Apples I have a number of these trees which I take care of but unfortunately they do not grow wild by the roads. In the 70s the gov introduced eucalyptus and acacia and they go everywhere giving very little in return.
Also in the 80s all the less productive trees were removed and replaced with fruit trees from Italy or Spain. The problem is these needed more water than we could supply long term.
I will post some pictures of what I did till now in my land.
We try Figs with the cutting method but I do not have good success. I suspect it's the summer as always. In fairness I have 2 growing in small soil pools of maybe 5 cm, it's either birds or ants. I again tried a dozen this year.
Regarding the Pears that variety is very rare in Malta as a matter of fact I never saw any. I would be very grateful if you could send me some seeds.
Regarding the mulch I will definitely do.
Regarding tools I use my traditional tools as they do the job fine.
Mastic tree is the Lentisk tree. It's great for what you are after Kostas. Grows well and can take a beating from the relentless sun.
I will keep you posted on all progress.
I will be glad to send you some seeds…please use my email email@example.com and send me your address, and I will send them as soon as possible…seeds need to be in the ground "now, or 2 months ago"
If anyone in the forum needs seeds please let me know.
Does the Lentisk tree self seed in Malta (does it grow wild?)
A tool like the one shown in https://permies.com/t/120/14353/Reforestation-Growing-trees-arid-barren
will make your life easier if you need to plant many seeds…or you can design something that fits your needs.
Looking forward to the pictures
scarification with clipper
on p. 9 a seed clipper is shown, which increased the germination rate of olive seeds to 80-90%
Different treatements (hot water, chemicals are shown, but the most effective method was the scarification with the clipper.
a link in french
they say that the germination capacity of the seeds is genetically given. Not all varieties are able to germinate well. They write also that to have a high germination rate green olives are collected. THey discuss a soaking and a stratificaton method for the seeds. If google translate is not helpful, tell me and I can help.
Thanks for your help.
Until a few weeks ago the Lentisk tree was a pest even for me. Just now I realise its importance. I will use it as a wind breaker. It grows from the self propagating seeds.
I believe it tribes in the abandoned fields as it's I my found there. My fields were abandoned for 30 yrs or more.
Some pics of Olive from Bird dropping, of one of my Almond Farm and on the Lentisk tree.
Some great stuff listed here.
hans muster wrote:About olives: in Morocco, near Agadir, I saw wild olives in unirrigated places. The fruits were 5 by 7 mm in size, black when ripe.
Maybe they sprout easilier than cultivated olives, because there is a selection towards sexual reproduction? Or because they are more likely to be swallowed by birds?
They could still be grafted later on if good fruits are required.
I agree with this statement from Hans. Our cultivated olives rarely sprout from seed but the wild ones are everywhere.
We usually take root cuttings and start new trees from those. it is much easier with the root, than the seed, as it already has a start.
I'll send you an email regarding the wild pear seeds.
Great info…thank You…Very useful!!!
It motivated me to go out and collect and crack some olives.
I traveled half hour outside Thessaloniki, to a place that is full of wild olive trees, and collected some olives.
I was amazed at the difference between the large green olive pits, and the small, much thinner wild olive pits - see photo.
The wild ones resemble the pits from the plums, in size and thin exterior shell.
I will run some simple tests, and see what happens.
The 1st test is to take 10 wild olive pits and bury them in the ground as they are (see if any sprout…and then if any, see how many survive the summer.
The 2nd test is to take 10 wild olive pits, and mildly scarify them with clippers…and observe
The 3rd test is the same as the 2nd, but with deeper cut with the clippers (get close to the core-expose it a bit) …and observe
The 4th test is to put 10 large olive pits, without scarification
The 5th test is 10 large olive pits with deep scarification
(Any suggestions would be appreciated)
Does anyone in your area have any experience with olives growing from seed ? Please share.
Again the objective is to put the seeds in clay cubes or directly seeded in the ground.
It would be great if others repeat this test and share the results.
Great photos...Thank You
Let's check out the Lentisk tree…it sounds promising---does it grow like a tree or a shrub ?
Wild olive trees are great…they are much stronger than trees grown cuttings with hormones, which tend to be weaker.
Recently I gave a friend some carob seeds, and he fed one of his goat.
I examined the droppings from the goat…it appears that the goat digested most of the seeds. I found one carob seed, that was enlarged and soft (four times the regular size) - I looked through about 25% of the manure.
The rest of the manure, I buried in the farm, in a spot I marked…I want to see how many trees sprout in that spot.
Thank You for the input !!!
Do any of the stores sell olive trees grown from seed in your area? If so ask how they go about growing them?
I have been thinking lately, about a companion tree or shrub that can be planted near the olive trees, that can act as a fertilizer tree, so we can do away with the chemical fertilizers.
A shrub like the laburnum, is a nitrogen fixer, and I hope it will have beneficial effects on the olive tree. The laburnum can be trimmed each year down to a 1.5 meter height, and the leaves and shrubs used for compost/mulch.
I posed the same question to Panos Manikis (http://www.natural-farming.eu/en/), and without hesitation, he mentioned Elaeagnus umbellata …when I asked him about it he cited the beneficial Rhizobacteria (I do not know much about this).
I hope to try both, soon, and see how they do.
Unfortunately, a large part of Greece and southern Europe has become an endless large ocean of olive trees…monoculture, is never healthy (anywhere), but given that the land is plowed, fertilized and sprayed with chemicals, the end result is not good, for humans and land !!!
Do you, or anyone else, have any experience with companion plants/shrubs trees for the olive trees? what type and how did they perform.
If we can eliminate the use of fertilizers and sprays it would be a step forward to reclaiming our health and the land.
Companion plants for Olives:
In southern Spain and Morocco I saw broad beans (Vicia faba) planted under olive trees. As a nitrogen fixing plant it could lower a bit the N-need. Maybe chickpeas or other legumes as well?
It seems like a shrub would hinder a mechanical harvest of the olives. The question is if you want to harvest mechanically the fallen olives from the bare ground (often sprayed with herbicides ) or shake the olives onto tarps, or harvest manually.
Otherwises grapes are sometimes interplanted with olives, do not know much more than a Moroccan guy told me that he had both in his fields. Probably the olives are not on an industrial scale. (but yes, maybe the industrial scale is the problem...)
A link that may be of interest to you
in the name or the description. There are some things that may be of interest to you as well.
Again Thank You for the information…Its very useful.
I have been thinking about this for some time. The objective is to turn the vast olive fields, which are full of petro-chemicals and soil erosion, into Natural Farms…as close as possible.
That means no plowing of any kind; principle number one as outlined by Masanobu Fukuoka, San in the "One Straw Revolution" and his later books. Or, as the late Wangari Maathai used to say --the earth is a beautiful lady that likes to be covered in green all the time---(I am paraphrasing, but it's close to what she said). So if terracing is needed, it must be seeded and covered immediately.
No pruning…once an olive tree is given "its natural form" it should not be pruned again…doing away with pruning avoids an unnecessary cost (it’s a significant cost) , and does away with the practice of burning the pruned material, which pollutes the air.
No fertilizers…the land needs to be nurtured and improved by means of green manure crops…Gabe Brown and his friends ( [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yPjoh9YJMk&t=28s),[/youtube] do an excellent job, on a large scale. Fukuoka has extensive information on this issue. For example alfalfa is an excellent plant for improving the soil, even in the driest climates (there are many more).
The idea of using a companion tree intrigues me. I have small Koelreuteria tree growing next to a mulberry tree; I keep it pruned down to 1 meter; it could be a coincidence, but that mulberry tree has very vigorous development…the same happened with a eucalyptus tree. Koelreuteria trees love to grow on my land for some reason. Two trees do not make a pattern, and there could be other factors, but, I think it may be worth investigating. So a combination of green manure crops, and may be companion trees, can eliminate chemical fertilizers. It's good for the farmers (lower costs), it's good for the land, and it's good for the consumers, who will consume clean olives and olive oil.
No chemical pesticides; there are other means for controlling pests, and they should be used.
Around the perimeter of each olive orchard or maybe in between the rows other trees should be planted, like robinia, or others to attract birds and beneficial insects.
And in the future, new orchards can be designed to have multiple species of tree, and not just the olive monoculture.
The olive trees can still be harvested mechanically…if farmers adopt the principles of natural farming, I think their lives and income will improve.
These are some thoughts on how to reclaim the lands that are used and abused to grow olive oil.
I have a friend--Giannis--on the Island of Crete that is already doing this (except the companion trees), and he is very happy with the results.
interesting topic, maybe we could separate it into a new topic named "Olive polycultures" or something like this?
Good. Another good book about this is "Dirt, the Erosion of Civilization" by Montgomery. Speaks a lot about the climatic zone you are in, and Greece especially.
I am always shocked when I see the burning piles of organic matter. But I see a resource being wasted:
-One farmer I met chipped all the olive prunings, and let them dry. Then he fed them to the goats, which picked the dry leaves and tips of branches. The leftovers he used as bedding for the goats, then composted everything. Probably rabbits could also be fed olive trimmings.
-In other places wood chips are used to heat, or to produce electricity, or to produce biochar, or any combination of the 3. See 1) for a link for a company. They have power plants which can be visited. The initial costs are high for this.
-Wood chips are sometimes also used directly to mulch, depending on the crop. It may reduce yields until the right biology is in place.
(Maybe you are in a climate too dry to cultivate mushrooms in the wood chips)
If you let your trees grow as tall as they grow naturally, how are you going to pick the olives?
As far as I know (I am not at all an olive specialist) there are 3 ways of collecting olives:
a) climbing and picking manually
b) shaking onto tarps or nets
c) waiting until they fall down and pick them up with giant vacuum cleaners.
Did I miss one? How is your friend harvesting? How are others harvesting mechanically?
Option c) needs quite clean ground, the reason why herbicides are used. And you should avoid animals which have manure which could be collected with the vacuum cleaner, at least in the dry period before harvest. Option a) and b) are a bit more difficult with unpruned trees, no?
Alfalfa could be used to produce hay and ground cover. I worked in another climate and other plants, perennial legumes as fodder were working well.
Do you know of Marc Bonfils, and his way of cultivating cereals? He was inspired by Fukuoka, and wanted to adapt his way of farming to the Mediterranean climate.
Basically he planted winter wheat end of June in clover, with seeds spaced over half a meter. In autumn he sometimes grazed sheep, which did not reduce yields. In spring, wheat heads were forming, and one month before harvest he planted the next crop of wheat between his growing wheat plants. Then he harvested the wheat, leaving the straw. This way needs some pure winter wheat, which reacts to day length, and not do growing time. Bonfils stated that the yields increased from year to year, due to the higher organic matter and non disturbing of the soil.
If cereals are grown between olives, it could be a sustainable (regenerative) way of cultivating them.
Can you describe what exactly your friend in Crete is doing?
Question about pigs (not as random as it seems): Do you know if pigs eat fresh olives?
I'll try to, hopefully, add some thoughts to help.
Even if my climate is completely different to yours, i have some experience with my travels in Greece.
Also, i've studied with great interest what grows in mediterranean climates.
In my Greek voyages, i was surprised the lack of Manuka trees/shrubs (Leptospermum scoparium).
When i asked at nurseries why it's not cultivated more i got blank stares ...
It's wonderful for arid regions and great for honey.
If you don't care about having bees, the wild ones will love it.
And if that does not matter, it's a great mulch source.
As a ground cover you could consider esparsette / sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia).
It likes it dry and is great to establish over winter.
Or trigonella foenum graecum which likes it dry and should have seed ready aailable.
I am buying it as "tea" bags (basically the raw seed for tea making).
As for other tree / shrub candidates to use with olives or just for shading / mulching / flower / etc., you could try:
Acacias - especially the shrubby ones
Prosopis genus (promoted by Brad Lancaster)
Caesalpinia genus (grows readily from seed but you have to nick or file them like i did)
If you are brave - Cytisus scoparius (i've heard bad things about it but it's great for drought, N-fixer, lovely flowers and i bet a good mulch source - those twigs will feed the fungi)
Same as Cytisus, you could try Parkinsonia genus which has tons of seed which you could use (but they have to be scarified).
One of my passions was to have long walks, preferably in the wilder parts of Greece (mostly around Thessaloniki area but also in Corfu and around Athens).
On many of these walks i saw large numbers of:
Paliurus Spina Christi
A whole array of "weeds" from which i collected copious amounts of seed, including:
Eryngium (campestre and others)
All these were growing like crazy without any human intervention in areas that were scorched and bone dry as much as i could stick my spade in.
You could also try some of the other "weeds":
Carthamus Tinctorius - or the genus
These are mostly "help" plants that can grow readily from seed and cover an area, used for ground cover and / or understory.
There are so many more but i have to go over all my data from my voyages and research.
As for fruit trees, i can't recommend highly enough the Jujube (zyzyphus jujube).
I have seen some growing wild so they should be doable by seed.
Another fruiting tree i saw going somewhat wild is pomegranate (rodia).
These have tons of seed that you can disperse and see what happens.
Also, if you want, the kumquats for maybe the understory of olives should work.
I was on an olive farm in Sicily. We had carob, pomegranate, figs, grapes, fiche d'India, and stone fruits as perimeter crops. Maybe a few intertwined within the olives.
During the summer months, the government will fine anyone not removing dried grasses and such from their land as it is a fire hazard.
During the rainy months, we would use all types of beans for nitrogen, especially fava as they can withstand cold weather.
I'm on the mainland now. I have been observing how small scale olive production in done in this area. I'll start asking more about companion planting.
The only advice I have received, thus far, is that the olive does not need any nutrients and does not lend any.
1. Olives leaves are eaten by an insect with pliers and leave just branches unless one used either pwesticides or else a cotton type fabric. I use the latter.
2. I have 3 sets of olives 12 yr old, 6 yr old and 2 yr old. The 12 yr old are mature now and I tried to replicate with the 6 yr old but I use to leave the ground barren and in summer the years sucks up everything. For conveniance below the 2 yr old I just threw all the seeds underneath them. This made that the 2 yr old are nearly as big as the 6 yr old. That's the only explanation as the water qty given is the same.
The insect I mentioned before will come in anything that touches the olives.
I have my olives with almonds bamboo and mastic tree we also plant braid been quite close by more as a way to maximise briadbeen production but I noticed it helps a lot a lot.
You are right…it’s a huge topic…addressing the issue of mono cultures, whether its olive, grape, almond etc.
How to convert these vast deserts into natural farms. We need examples and guidance to follow.
As far as collecting the fruits, whether they be olives, or cherries, or almonds…you do not call all of the fruit…you leave the top to feed your farm helpers…birds and insects, and when they fall, for the soil critters.
Mechanical harvesting with tarps, is the most common type here. In due time, I am sure miniature robots will help harvest the olives and the other fruits.
Our main concern, is not so much the quantity of the harvest…it's the quality of the harvest, the protection and improvement of the soil, and the protection and conservation of the ground water…these are the major issues.
If the soil fertility and the overall health of the farm is addressed, then the quantity of the harvest will take care of itself.
Where are you located… tell us about your activities?
I do not know exactly what Gianni is doing in Crete…next time I see him, I will ask him to introduce his operation, and tell us what works and what does not. We need good examples.
Recently I came across a small forest of wild olive trees…its roughly 30 million square meters…all wild olives, near a lake…the area is grazed by goats. I have not come across anything like it. Sure there patches of wild olive trees growing everywhere, but nothing this size and density. I collected some olives, and will try to see how they do.
I do not have any experience with pigs…how many do you have, how is that going.
I know of a restaurant in this area, that serves organic food…they have a few pigs and feed them the leftovers, so nothing gets wasted…it’s a smart idea, the pigs get fed good food and the leftover food does not go to the waste dump (they have these pigs on the menu-they taste great).
The list of plants and trees you provided in impressive!!!
How have you come to have such an intense interest and knowledge in plant life…what motivated you?
The list of "weeds" is very important…and will help re green, bone dry areas… even dryer than southern Europe. One of the weeds you mentioned Scolymus hispanicus, is one of my favorite wild edibles, and I am starting to cultivate it on my garden beds.
There is this project called the Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel. I do not know the latest on this project, or what is the projected completion date for it…how long will it take for them to finish the project…but I think the list of weeds you provided (and other similar) should be put on clay balls and spread over the desert area, in conjunction with the trees they plant.
I will keep the list of trees you mentioned and try them later on…I wish some the research universities around the world start spending time and effort looking into this… I can only try a few trees a year.
Not complaining…I am thankful for the list of trees we have accumulated so far…they are enough to do the job for many parts of the world…If one or more trees are successfully evaluated each year, that would be great.
The power of this group is amazing…different minds from around the world, come and contribute ideas, and we are making great progress !!!
It's important that other members of this group try these seeds in their areas and report back on the results.
Thank you for the information.
You brought up a very hot topic, which is fire in the arid zones. There is a need to super mulch (keep the soil covered)to protect the soil from the scorching sun, and a need for fire protection. If you plow, just to remove the dry grass, you are destroying the fertility of your soil, therefore your farm. If you plow to protect your trees from fire…in essence you destroy your farm before the fire that may never come, destroys it.
Plowing the land, is killing the land…no question about it..another solution needs to be implemented.
Fava beans are great to add nitrogen…
I was just wondering, if a companion shrub or tree will do the same…the advantage being that it's there and does not need to be planted again and again. I planted 6 elaeagnus umbellata near 6 olive trees last week, and I will soon plant 2 or 3 laburnum that I have around, and 5 or so Koelreuteria paniculata trees, next to olive trees. It will take a few years to see what results if any will take place.
We need to collect info, and have examples, of farmers that do organic olive production…how they do it and how it's going. By organic I mean no chemicals at all…some of the organic farmers that I know, use manures…they buy chicken manure and spread it around the trees…but, if the chickens are raised in those big factory style farms, then their waste is contaminated…so their soil and trees gets contaminated…we need examples and methodologies from people who follow good practices.
The same needs to be done with the other mono culture tree farms (almonds, pears etc etc).
What's the point of reforesting, if the prime land around the globe, gets constantly contaminated. In all fairness the farmers need good examples to follow, and they need to be properly paid for their products, so they can make a decent living.
Thanks for the info on the olive trees; I assume you mean locusts (pest with pliers)…how do you use the fabric to protect the trees?
Did you just throw the olive pits on the ground, or did you bury them in the soil ?
How many broad beans do you plant around each olive tree? You think this helps in the production ? Do you use fertilizers or manure for your trees.
Yè they are Locusts. One needs to do a piece of this fabric around the tree trunk and have it at least 8cm wife so the light gets entangled. Also any talk undergrowth that bypasses this fabric needs trimming.
We have a local chicken here that is really resiliant. It's called Maltese Black. We feed it all the kitchen scraps and any greens leaves undergrowth et c. We also add bread and as a last resort store bought good when there is nothing around. This is maybe 60 days a year. We use the manure as fertiliser and we get fresh eggs in the process.
We use this manure where ever we need it. This makes it the cleanest we can get.
As for the broad beans we had terrible soil when I first took the land. Nothing grew well. It was a sort of white sand resting above the clay layer. I planted heavily in broad beans for 3 years and only the 3rd year had a decent yield. That year I also planted almonds and olives and they started to grow and flourish. Now broad bean every year.
I see that the broad beans really help the trees. We're we have no broad beans the soil is whitish and poor. After the broad beans are introduced the situation improves a lot.
I got interested after i found out about permaculture.
I'm an energy/electrical/electronic guy and, honestly, i don't see this as going anywhere, period.
It's just serving it's own purpose.
But living systems, now we're talking about.
One of the primary purposes of life is to grow and enhance life.
The entire face of the earth is continuously changed by life.
So i said to myself, this should be it.
On the other hand, plants are easier to deal with than animals, and a certain so called "wise" one.
So, i studied and i went to holidays in Greece.
I always prefer this country for my holidays for too many reasons.
And, while the wife and kids were happily sleeping the afternoon, i got going with some digging / cutting / collecting tools in my pouch.
So i took plenty of cuttings and fists of seed plus pictures.
I used the pictures to search the internet for the name of the plants so that's how i know what they are.
Of course, the purpose was to figure out what i could grow back home, which is surprisingly A LOT.
So, when i go to Greece, i see and feel a lot of history (ancient and modern), and IMMENSE potential, untapped ...
Everything could be green and happy.
Of course, speaking to the natives, they don't see it that way.
They're very surprised to find out what that lunatic is doing in that "abandoned field of weeds".
Imagine they're surprise when i tell them i collect "medicinal" plants.
Yeah, that blue eryngium is cure for that cold you have last winter but you just burned it ...
I wish i could have a plot of land in your country ... the things i could do ...
Ok, time to stop dreaming.
Just so you know, even if i live in a different climate, things are not very different both as difficulty and amount of damage we as humans have done and continue doing to the planet.
I do envy you for the mediterranean climate with its warm winters and scorching summers.
People find the summers hard because of the heat but shade is a very good solution.
Rain lacking during summer is a big issue but it can be mitigated, in time.
I prefer that to having the ground frozen solid for 2 months ... and 6-8 months of the year being cold.
The weeds i mentioned, i got some fists of seed from them.
It was easier to get them from greece than spending extra time and collect them locally (municipalities like to cut anything that grows much earlier than seed setting time).
All of them i planted in my property.
And my property is worse than what you have.
Not even the weeds grew ... except Silybum marianum which survived even the sheep.
If you can get hold of the seed, it's gold.
I don't have the scorching summer but topsoil is just 10cm with some small grasses then 10cm of hardpan.
A shovel is a no-no, a pick-axe will show some success (deep sweating).
During rains it saturates and flows downhill.
As soon as it dries, it gets tough as concrete.
And i can't grow hardy stuff that you can because of the frigid winter ...
And, the local shepherds don't give a dime about private property and come and go with the sheep many times a day.
This is going for more than 30 years ... hard habit to heal.
What did grow, and maybe you could get hold of some seed, is buckwheat.
It grows like crazy in almost zero fertility.
I think for you it should work as an autumn crop, planted maybe in early october.
It is a cooler climate crop but you have cool winters.
I bought 2 x 25kg sacks from a pidgeon supply store.
I thought i try and they grew like mad.
They did not set seed since i planted them late May, just in time for hot weather.
Whatever survived was mowed by the sheep.
So, natural shops could be a source of seed, tea bags like Fenugreek, seeds of Flax, Amaranth, etc.
Spice shops can also have a lot of seed material (Carum carvi, Cuminum cyminum, Melilotus officinalis or album, Pimpinella anisum, Cardamom, Thymus, Coriander, Foeniculum vulgare, Poppies, Nigella, Oregano, Mustard, Pepper, Sesame, etc).
Animal food shops (especially birds) can have tons of good stuff. I have grown some Nyger (Guizotia abyssinica) that looked very nice. 1kg bag about 2.5 Euro, plenty of seed.
You could also try Phacelia for the insects, especially bees.
And a local hardy aromated shrub - the Laurel (daphni).
I have tens of gigabytes of pictures, documents and other stuff but i have to remember to take a look again.
I might find something of potential.
Anyway, enough with the babbling.
You should have a good "shopping" list, you only need time, and that is always problematic.
PS. One other tree good for humans and wildlife, Myrobalan - Prunus cerasifera (Prunus divaricata) - grows itself.
My wife's grandmother spit a kernel seed one day, next year the tree was 2m tall and the next year full of large red fruit.
Beat that if you can. I've also seen them grow happily in greece so, godspeed.
The use of chickens, is very smart; a very beneficial arrangement for all.
It will be interesting to see how the trees produce; they say olive trees produce every other year, but with heavily fertilized and sprayed trees, these farmers, claim the trees produce every year (their product is not fit for consumption…but that's another matter).
Your passion and your love of nature come through your writings loud and clear !!!
You are welcome to come and visit, at the Thessaloniki, and see the trees.
You should also visit, the natural farm of Panos Manikis, near Edessa Greece. It’s a wonderful place; after 35 years of no tiling, and the application of natural farming techniques, this farm is super fertile and very productive; you can develop your land in a similar manner; it's simple and easy.
The same invitation, applies to all members of this forum.
You mentioned Myrobalan - Prunus…we planted a few thousand this year; I am very optimistic about this tree…time will tell…
You mentioned about the sheep farmers invading your farm; you need to put a stop to this. If it's not feasible to build a fence, you should consider planting trees like, prunus spinoza, Gleditsia triacanthos or similar trees/shrubs that have sharp thorns; they grow fast and will also provide food for you.
I went to university over the last month, (that is I spoke to your old farmers).
I was told that for Grapes they do the following.
- make sure to have all rubble walls built
- plant grapes following the contours of the land
- plant broad beans between every grape
- plough the land in march when there is alot of green vegitation around and just prune the trees at the same time
Update on fields..........
Almonds are doing well. most 2nd year almonds are ok. they need to get strong to survive the summer now especially those i transplanted
1st year almonds sprouted and are about 2 cm in length. seems to be all ok but started to protect these from the rabbits.
Glad to hear about the almonds...its encouraging !!!
The advice to plow the land...has been proven to be wrong...it destroys the soil and the life the resides in the soil (see Masanobu Fukuoka, and the Gabe Brown videos)...I know you are concerned about fire, but something can be done with that.
Broad beans and grapes sounds good...you are in a tough environment, but I sure it will go well...you will find many plants and shrubs to cover/protect your soil.
Some important lessons learned (or re learned this Year)
***Seeds should be placed in the ground in October or November…the weather is unpredictable, and seeds placed in the ground in early January this year, did not germinate…not enough cold and wet days.
***Small clay cubes (3 cm or less) did not sprout at all…they survived the rainstorms intact, but the seeds inside them failed to sprout. Rains followed by warm weather or wind dried the clay cubes…5 or 6 cm (2 to 2.5 inch) is more appropriate… we had success with this sizes before on a small scale…we will make more of them this year, and see how they do. When plums or other seeds in the ground germinate, and next to them the same seeds in clay, do not, there is something wrong with the recipe for the clay cubes, that needs correcting.
*** There is nothing that can be done about the ever changing weather…it’s the end of April, and the high winds and lack of rain have dried out the soil, consequently trees that sprouted this year, are showing signs of stress already…if May comes and goes with little or no rain, we can expect most of these young trees to perish…we need to accept this fact of life and keep trying again and again until the desired forests/food forests are established…PERSISTENCE is the key word, and optimism that it will get done.
***The carob seeds that were fed to a goat, sprouted…some of them !!! we fed a friends goat with carobs…she digested most of them, but we collected about 10, that were soft and doubled in size…they buried in the ground, and they all sprouted…this is a start, on the road to using this magnificent trees for reforestation purposes.
***The wild olives we collected, were placed in the ground late…so they did not germinate…will try again this year, and hopefully we will have good results…I collected about a kilo of them, so I will also be putting them in clay cubes.
***The are four pieces of land near Thessaloniki and two pieces of land 1/2 hour South of Thessaloniki, that I decided to concentrate to reforest. A piece of land in Crete that a friend owns will also be seeded. Here is a brief update/description on each. I have not visited the seeding area, around Sparta, so I cannot provide updates.
Crete: We seeded in mid January, about 1000 to 1500 square meter parcel of land…the land has already olive trees, spaced far apart, but the owner is excited about creating a food forest. It was a mistake to place seeds in the ground that late, we will revisit the area in October or November this Year and try again…Crete is much more difficult than Thessaloniki
Some general comments…there are wild pigs in the area, and some stray dogs…they are digging up the soil and causing some damage..It's important to note that we do not have a problem here with the "pest" digging up and eating the almond seeds like we have in the Petra seeding areas (1/2 hour South of Thessaloniki). The wild rabbits in the area, in the past have been eating the young trees, but it appears the trees re grow and survive the rabbits.
EK-1 Approximately 250 square meters…the soil appears to be rich, and all round there are pine trees, so the land is protected somewhat from the scorching sun. Last year we had placed around 10 almonds seeds here, and they sprouted. This year, we seeded 500 almonds, 300 apricots, 500 plums, 100 crataegus 125 apples, and "some" wild pears…will provide a video of the area soon…there are signs of distress on the young trees due to the lack of rain.
EK-2 Approximately 2000 square meters…the soil appears to be rich..the area was burned about 20 years ago. The new trees are growing fast, some almonds have reached 15 to 20 cm height…some are showing signs of stress due the rain situation. This is the 1st time we seed in this area…it looks like an ideal place for a food forest…I hope we succeed. This year, we seeded 500 almonds, 700 apricots, 500 plums, 400 crataegus 250 apples, and "some" wild pears.
TR-1 Approximately 1500 square meters…the land is partially covered by pines (about 60%), and has steep south facing slope…the land has a thin layer of rich soil, and it appears the subsoil is clay. We have placed seeds in the ground in the last 2 - 3 years, and many trees have survived and are growing. This year, we seeded 1000 almonds, ? apricots, 250 plums, 400 crataegus 250 apples, and "some" wild pears. It will be interesting to see how these trees will do next to the pine trees…this may guide us towards reforesting pine forests that get damaged by insect infestation or are burned.
MK-1 Approximately 5,000 to 6,000 square meters…this is a good size piece of land, with decent soil, and south facing slope, the top is partially covered by pine trees. Most of the area was burned 20 years ago. We placed some seeds in the ground in the last 3 years, so we have some trees growing…now we will try to place many more, so we will develop a dense forest. This year, we seeded 1000 almonds, 1000 apricots, 1500 plums, 750 crataegus 500 apples, and "some" wild pears.
We also have 2 areas, that we concentrate on, in the Petra area (about 1/2 hour south of Thessaloniki)…will provide info on this soon.
Almond trees by Roadside near Thessaloniki
A short video …poor sound quality due to traffic…trees planted in October 2012 (I think), have grown to be 50 cm to 1 meter high…trees were planted every 1 to 2 meters…each year for 3 to 4 years I visited the site and planted additional almonds where the trees from the previous years had died. For about 1 kilometer, on each side of the road, trees have been planted, they have survived the long summers and are healthy and strong. In a few years, in the spring the public will be treated to almond trees blooming…there must be 1000 to 1500 trees, if not more !!!
I've just seen the videos on your YouTube channel. It seems like we are in an unusual drought this year in Southern Europe... This year I planted some poplar stakes on wetter sites as well as acorns and chestnuts in the shade of existing oak (Quercus Pubescens) woodland. I tried also with some Robinia root cuttings to cover a steep slope that has been burnt twice this year by some unconscious people. I doubt any of this trees/seedlings will survive... This April we had only 10 minutes of heavy good rain. A part from this the only water to wet the soil has been night dew and some occasional and weak night shower. Very bad climate, unusually hot at day, very unusual dry conditions for April this year. As you said in your videos, it's like it is summer already. Best wishes for your reforesting project! Keep going!
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