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Monthly Food Forest Tours! Let's create a food forest together!

 
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 1 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/29/20.



I spent about 12 hours in the food forest this past week.

The grafted pears and apples are starting to really bud out well and are looking really good!

The grape vines are starting to put on some good new growth. There are even a few tiny grape clusters starting to form!

There are baby blueberries starting to form too! The blueberries seem to ripen at different times based on the variety and the individual bush, depending on if it cropped heavier or lighter the year before. It's really beneficial in my opinion, as it spreads out the harvest window and stretches it over a longer period of time to be able to harvest fresh blueberries.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 2 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/29/20.



The seedling rootstock are starting to bud out pretty well. Each one of these rootstock are genetically different from the other one, since they were each grown from a seed. I like having the genetic diversity of having seedling rootstock, instead of clonal rootstock (where every rootstock is the exact same plant (clone) and there isn't any genetic diversity. I will probably mainly be using the rootstock as a nurse rootstock just long enough to get the actual variety to send out its own roots and then I'll cut it off. However it does give a little more flexibility if I have extra rootstock, as I can plant them in the food forest to help fill it in initially. With each rootstock being a seedling, I could let it grow out enough to produce apples and see how the fruit is, or it could be grafted over to other varieties later as it gets bigger. Seedling rootstock helps provide more options, and I think by creating these additional options, they are very valuable.

The peach seedlings are growing fast! The tallest ones are already about 6 or 7 inches tall!

One peach seedling is sprouting from the group that was planted on the edge of the apple rootstock bed. It could be that the others in this bed are just a little behind since they were planted after the ones in the circle bed, but it appears that planting the peach seeds shortly after harvesting them like the ones in the circle bed, may help increase the germination rate, and it was a lot easier that way also.

A few of the pomegranates are either leafing out from limbs that survived over winter or are growing back from the roots if their branches didn't make it. It'll be interesting to see which ones have the best cold tolerance and whose limbs can make it through the winter without dying. I'd love to hopefully get some pomegranates from them in the next few years and save the seeds to create new hardy pomegranate varieties that are well adapted for our area and that taste yummy too!
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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Some recent pictures from the food forest.

Frogs chilling in the shallow pools, hopefully they'll chow down on some bugs.






A damselfly, which usually are found near water and eat "pest" insects. Can you find it? (Hint, it's in the middle of the picture on the branch. I saw a lot of these, and haven't seen any around before, so hopefully they are liking the pools and helping balance out the insect population.




One of the small pools in the food forest. The water flows in from the left ditch and exits into the right ditch.




Some wildflowers in the food forest.





 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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A mulberry growing back from the roots after the branches on this variety didn't survive the winter.




The apple trees are starting to bud out!






Red apple leaves still hanging on from last season.




Elderberry








Pear blossoms!




 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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Can you find the blueberry bush? This blueberry is being naturally protected using sticks and nearby vegetation.







Young blueberry being protected by a fence





Can you tell I like blueberry flowers?













Random plum pictures











 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 3 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/29/30.



There are lots of dime sized peaches!

I planted some cool weather crops around the fruit trees. Ironically it was in the high 80's recently, but it should hopefully cool back down a little soon. I planted peas, beets, lettuce, onions, and I planted some carrots around the grape vine.

The frogs are really thriving in the food forest! I see at least one or two every time I go out there. The sounds they make are really relaxing and peaceful also. Hopefully they'll help balance out the insect population.

There are cherry flowers on my other cherry tree for the first time! YAY! Both trees should hopefully be able to cross pollinate if needed to hopefully produce a handful of cherries this year. The trees are over 10 feet tall and should be able to easily carry a few cherries without hurting their growth this season. I'd like to get just a few to see how the varieties taste. I'd also love to be able to plant the seeds that may be a cross between these trees, which have done well compared to other varieties I've tried. Hopefully the seedlings would have a good chance of thriving here since the parents do, and hopefully they will be even more well adapted to my area and be super tasty too!

I've been able to move a few of the trees and bushes into their new permanent (hopefully) home. I have just a few more things to move. I hope to finish moving things this week and get them planted before the weather gets hot so they can have some time to get well established before the hot weather comes.

The paw paw flowers look like red and green bells hanging down and have a neat tropical look to them.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 4 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/29/20.



I planted the seed for the cool weather crops mentioned in the last video really quickly. It was a few pounds of seeds total, and I was done in about an hour. I generally try to just scatter the seed evenly over the area, putting more seed on bare patches of soil. If there is a variety that I don't have that much seed for or I really want to observe it, I may plant it in a specific area that I can keep track of easier. I didn't have much carrot seed, so I planted the little bit of seed that I had all on one mound around one of the grape vines.

Most of the soil was pretty bare as I just created most of the mounds pretty recently, so the seed should most likely come up pretty well. If I'm planting fewer seeds in an area with lots of dense foliage from wild crops, I may cut back the foliage in patches to close to ground level, leaving the cut growth in place as a mulch and planting the seeds on top of it or mixing it in a little bit depending on what type of seed it is.

We haven't had a rain in a few days, and rain isn't in the forecast until a few days from now. However the soil is pretty moist so some of the seed may begin to start sprouting even without the rain. If not though, the coming rain should water in all of the seeds good and hopefully they'll sprout soon!

I love the way the water looks in the food forest. It gives an extra peacefulness to it, and it's attracting a lots of neat frogs too! The water kind of completes the ecosystem.

Speaking of water in the food forest and ecosystems, in addition to frogs I've found two types of water beetles. The larger one seems to be a type of Dytiscidae https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dytiscidae and the smaller ones seem to be Hydrophilidae https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrophilidae . The first kind's larva are supposedly called water tigers, due to their aggressive appetite. Most larva of the second kind also appear to be predatory, and the adults are scavengers.

The blueberries being naturally protected by the branches stuck in the ground are doing really well! The nearby plants are also having a mysterious surge in growth. These plants that are growing nearby will also provide a kind of secondary natural protection as the limbs will probably rot soon and fall down, but the stalks from these plants that dry up when they die will create a natural replacement with absolutely no work!

The variety of pollinators that I've seen are really amazing! There are so many small wasps and other types of small insects that we don't think of too often that can help play a huge roll in managing a natural balance in insect pests. By creating habitat and food for them, we can help them help us by keeping the fruit pests in check. I've never been into bugs in general, but the more I learn about them, the more I am blown away by all of the different types, relationships, and roles they play in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

WARNING!!!  Natural Farming/Permaculture Philosophy Ramblings  

The more that I learn and know, the more I learn that I really don't know. I think nature has been created to be in balance, and we tend to step in and assert that we only want leaves or wood chips as a mulch around them, or that we only want certain plants to grow around them in certain areas, or that everything has to look super neat, manicured, and tidy or else it isn't perfect. Don't get me wrong, I think a lot of the things we learn and things we do for our plants are super helpful and beneficial. I wander though if there are just as many things and maybe more that we do that are not helpful. As I learn more and more, I tend to step back more and more, helping to set up the basics to create good locations and areas for the plants to survive and then really just mainly observing and nudging here and there ever so slightly to create abundant food systems with little work at all!

End of Natural Farming/Permaculture Philosophy Ramblings

The pear rootstock/seedling looks to be maybe a Bradford pear or other similar type tree, however it seems healthier than those trees growing nearby. A little bummer, but I could still use it for grafting or I may just cut it down.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 5 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/29/20.



We saw a few different types of water life in the last video, and as I was about to start this video, a little frog jumped out to say hello. I love seeing all these frogs in the food forest!

The elderberry got munched pretty hard by a deer, but it looks really healthy and should bounce back pretty quickly.

With each passing week, my hopes dwindle that the grafts on the plum tree will survive. I didn't wrap the tips in Parafilm like I did the other grafts, so I think they probably they probably dried out and died. I also didn't soak the cuttings in water before grafting and the cuttings were sitting out a while, so that probably contributed to the grafts failing probably even more so.

If you know of a good recipe for cooking or processing plums, I'd love to hear it!
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 6 of the weekly food forest tour for 3/29/20.



I uncovered the plum and apple tree that were hidden. The plum tree looks really healthy, and the apple tree hasn't budded out yet.

I dug 5 new pools in the food forest this week near the back section, and I have made mounds around all but 3 fruit trees in the food forest, and I hope to finish the last 3 very soon and make the existing mounds bigger around the other fruit trees.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 1 of the weekly food forest tour for 4/5/20.



The grafted apple and pear trees are really starting to put on some good growth! The rootstock was starting to grow too, so I had to remove it so that it won't grow up, and all of the energy will be focused to the main variety.

The grape vines are putting on some good growth, with lots of baby grape clusters. One shoot had three small grape bunches on it.

The first muscadine is covered with muscadines! It looks like this year's crop may be even bigger than last year's, which was huge! The other muscadine has just a few clusters showing up so far. If it doesn't produce a big crop this year I'll probably remove this second one.

Lots of small blueberries are starting to show up on the blueberry bushes! They are still very spread out in development, with some still flowering. That just means a longer blueberry harvest! Yay!
 
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