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The Artificial Tree--an idea for while you're waiting for your actual tree to come  RSS feed

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 558
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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One of your trees' functions is shade. Let's say you're trying to shade a pond you've built in the middle of an open hilltop that's been deforested. You want to prevent evaporation. Trees are a good way to do this--if you have trees all around your pond and duckweed on top of it then you've got a pretty good containment. But your trees are now seedlings and that duckweed on its own in full sun just isn't taking. What do you do for the next 20 years while you're waiting?

Well, I was thinking if you made something like a big sail, wood and canvas so it's all natural materials and isn't leaking toxic gick into the ground you could shade it from the rising and setting sun, so it's just getting the full treatment for a few hours in midday.

Or if you are trying to grow something shade-loving, or just not full-on heat-tolerant, you could build a temporary tree for it. Pawpaws for example.

How is it different from just a tent or a tarp over it?

* it lets rain still fall on the thing hyou want to be collecting water/getting watered
* it only shades it in certain times, the way a tree does (just at high noon, or just in the morning or just in the evening) instead of most of the day but for morning and evening (which a tarp overhead would do)
* it mimics something whose function CAN eventually be served by a living self-sustaining real tree in 20 years, whereas the tenty thing will always have to be human-made

Does this idea seem useful? thoughts? did somebody already come up with this?

I guess the grow box thing that was on here awhile back is kind of like this, in the sense of mimicking a tree element, by condensing water, but this is mimicking its shading function.
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1680
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Well, it is a very interesting idea, a canvas awning to enhance growing conditions. I'll be interested to see what other ideas come forth, now that the question has been posed.

What I have done in the past while waiting for a tree, is planted vines on trellises. Morning glories (not bind weed!) grow 12 feet in a season and die back to the ground have to start from seed when the soil warms, so they don't block the sun til it's hot. Also sunflowers grow up tall in a hurry, and there is always planting annual vines on sunflowers. Bean vines might grow up the sun flowers if you want food for yourself or a ruminant.

I have seen a growing system for tomatoes that requires two posts and a strong wire between them, then the tomato vines are trained up a jute or sisal twine that is staked to the ground near the roots, and attached to the wire over head. You could get a wall of shade that way too.

I planted a bushel basket gourd in a freind's back yard years ago. We had a lot of laughs about it, called it the plant that ate Greand Junction, it traveled through their 15 foot high hedge, and along the clothes line, gourd plants definitely have shading potential.

The living thing has the added function of humidifying the air, if that is a benefit in your location. It definitely is in mine. And I'm also partial to plants for the biomass and the O2 from photosynthesis.

But the question is about the awnings. So my reply is kind of a digression.

Thekla

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
Posts: 558
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Thanks Thekla, cool stories!

Just to clarify, I realize I had a picture in my mind but didn't get it in words--by a "sail" I meant the old-timer pirate sail kind, the mast and then a big square sale thingy. Not sure what the technical term is for that. it could be angled slightly, but it's mostly vertical as I'm picturing it, it's mostly blocking morning and evening sun and letting the rain go down. Of course, an actual tree is more of a big round awning with a drip line around it, I guess, and it's got vertical shade also--so X Y and Z axes have a big circle each. The horizontal circle would have to be saggy so it would drip toward the outside, like the drip line of the tree. And not saggy like a tarp usually is with all the water pouring down one spot, it would have to be carefully leveled so that water pours more evenly, or else it would have to be made extra messy so that there's no one path for the water. Maybe building the tree out of brush wood would be better than canvas.

On plants humidifying--maybe you can grow a vine up over your "tree" too, so you have the best of both worlds and get the shading up right away.

Another use for this--to test out your design much faster than if you had to wait 20 years. You could actually see where the shade lines fall, how plants do with that condition, etc.
 
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