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Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
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I'm posting these pics again in hopes someone will be able to help me. I am north of Hosuton in zone 8. My two raised beds are just a mess and I never get anything other then greenery out of it. I have an "orchard" we started 3 years ago and they have the same problem, no fruit. I added companion plants around it tree this spring but they didn't seem to do anything for the trees. My plum has canker and will need to be pulled up this fall and my peach and nectarines have little to no leaves.

I have acreage to plant lots more things but I wanted to get this area right before I waste my time in other areas of my yard.

Can someone help me figure a way to set these areas up following permaculture guidelines? I hate that I waste so much time, energy and money when I know if I had it set up correctly it would be productive.
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Ed Colmar
Posts: 47
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It sounds like you want a design.

The easiest way to do this is to hire/befriend a designer. Or, you can take a PDC if you want all of the information and training yourself.

Once you have a design, then you'll be able to focus in on implementing the different elements and it will all make sense from a big picture perspective.

Did I read your question correctly?
 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
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Ed, I guess I am looking for a design so to speak. I know I want to keep the raised beds just plant things that can work together. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on but sometimes I feel more confused then when I started. I have looking into classes but they are at least 2 hours away from me. I think I'm stuck trying to do this on my own.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9691
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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It looks like you have a lot of shade. That might be one reason why only greens will grow in your raised beds. Fruiting vegetables like squash and tomatoes prefer more sun. For the fruit trees, you might want to try removing more grass from around them and replacing it with mulch and companion plants. And don't be surprised if you don't get fruit from the trees for another year or two - most fruit trees take a few years to get to bearing age. I think my apple trees are at least five years old and just this year set fruit on all the trees. We got only one apple last year.

If you could make a sketch of your property and post it, we might be able to give you some design ideas. It's difficult to get any context from these photos.

 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
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I will see if I can get a sketch of my property. It does look like a lot of shade. The pic was taken at 8:30am and the sun has already started to move further south. Normally the raised beds are in full sun by 9am and stay in it until about 7pm (during the summer).

I kind of thought the same thing about the fruit trees. About how far out do you think I should pull the dirt around the fruit trees?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9691
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I would remove the grass as far out as the expected full-size canopy of the tree. So, for dwarfs 8-10 feet, for semi-dwarf 12-15 feet, for standard 15 - 20 feet diameters. The non-grass areas should be thickly mulched and/or have support plants. Various kinds of onions make good ground cover for under fruit trees. My favorite is Garlic Chives, which multiply quickly to make a thick carpet of tasty little green onions. Walking aka Egyptian Onion is also good. Bearded Iris are pretty and don't compete with the fruit trees. Lots of people love Comfrey because it is such a good mulch plant and nutrient accumulator, but I've had no luck growing it.

You might also want to get some rock dust or other mineral supplement for your gardens, both the fruit trees and the beds. I was having trouble with my apple trees looking sickly until I gave them supplements. If you can't find rock dust, a non-permie substitute is fruit tree fertilizer from the garden center. Using a small amount of chemical fertilizer in addition to mulch and compost is not going to kill anyone, in my opinion, if it means preventing garden heartbreak.
 
Ed Colmar
Posts: 47
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Permaculture is a design science. Design is critical.

Consideration of the big picture, and creating a framework which works to your benefit is the purpose of the design.

You can certainly utilize some permaculture techniques on a site. This may or may not work the way you expect, because it was not designed into the larger systems.

Take the raised beds for example... Why are they in that location? Is there a different location that would have been better? Are there more multi-functional elements which could be in that location instead? Why are they raised? Would a different planting technique work better? What elements are interacting with these beds, and what effects are they having on each other?

Here's a quick example from my experience:

Before I took my PDC, I allowed a housemate to build an annual garden at the bottom of my small property. He used good techniques, and applied a lot of human labor. It produced some food. But as I learned more, I realized that it was not functioning correctly given the system that it exists inside of. This year, inspired by the success of the rest of the design, I decided to completely redo this lower area so it was designed properly. I am 100% certain that this bottom region will be more productive now that it is integrated properly.

Without the PDC knowledge, I think I would have struggled with the un-designed system in it's malfunctioning state. Which would have only led to frustration.

You can take geoff lawton's online course if you can't find a PDC near you, or don't want to travel.



 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9691
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Personally I don't think a design course is absolutely necessary. At least I hope it isn't because I haven't taken one. The main design consideration that I've found important is to place those features which need the most attention as close to the house as possible. For instance, my vegetable garden used to be a ways from the house and on the opposite side to the kitchen and back door. I never gave it adequate care and the site was too exposed to hot sun and drying winds. After I moved it next to the house and almost directly out the back door, everything became almost magically easier and more convenient. Every time I break this design rule I come to regret it, so it is something I try to keep in mind when considering adding new elements. So you may come to decide the raised beds aren't in a good spot and maybe don't even need to be raised beds at all. It's ok to change things around as you learn more. Looking at other people's designs has been most helpful for me.

Here are a couple:

http://www.happyearth.com.au/garden-design/

http://permaculturenews.org/2012/06/01/zaytuna-farm-video-tour-apr-may-2012-ten-years-of-revolutionary-design/

I think with more information about your space we can help you with some design ideas.



 
Ed Colmar
Posts: 47
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Kempy Dupree wrote:I hate that I waste so much time, energy and money when I know if I had it set up correctly it would be productive.


Taking a design course is not absolutely necessary if you are just experimenting. Learning and experimenting on your own is great and totally encouraged.

As an aside, learning and experimenting don't stop after a PDC, it is just more focused. One of the things a PDC gives you is a foundation for proven strategies that are going to work in a particular climate. There is plenty of room for experimentation once you have a solid framework in place.

Kempy, I think you are looking for a more finalized, comprehensive plan. Not just a quick fix that might work for a little while. Something you can do once, and feel confident that it is going to work "forever". This is what permaculture is all about. And this is why you spend the time to design the system first.

I experimented for 15+ years while researching and learning as much as I possibly could on my own. I had all the books, watched all the videos, and visited numerous sites. I did so much independent learning that I thought that I would not get very much out of the PDC I took. I could not have been more wrong.

When you're ready to "set it up correctly", the knowledge, and perspective gained from a PDC is invaluable.
 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
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Ok, so here is a pic from google earth. The green dots are the fruit trees and the raised beds.

Not sure if this is what you meant by a sketch of my area.
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Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9691
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
176
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Thanks for posting that, Kempy. Is there a slope to the land, or is it flat? Which direction is South - to the left of the picture?

 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
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No slope in the main yard, the area to the left of the house has about a 7 foot drop heading to a pond. We have not done anything with that part of the property, really like the trees. The back of the property faces south.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9691
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
176
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Ok! I think it would be fun if a number of us try to make designs for Kempy's property, and post them here for comparison. I'm going to try to work on it this weekend, with my less than fabulous graphics skills, and post what I come up with.

 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
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I think it would be fun too! 😀

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9691
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Here's my initial design, first try.



Legend:

W - Large water tanks
H - Herbs and edible flowers, perennial vegetables
P - Lawn and play area
V - annual vegetable beds
F - food forest of fruit trees, perennial vegetables, and support plants
C - Chickens, if you want them
B - Clumping bamboo or other support plants to block view to the neighbors or this could be more food forest, depending on how ambitious you are

Support plants you might want to consider are:

Mimosa Albizia julibrissin tree
False Indigo Baptisia australis shrub
Bluebonnet Lupinus texensis winter annual
Hyacinth Bean Lablab purpureus summer annual vine
Black-eyed Pea Vigna unguiculata summer annual

I'm sure other folks will have more ideas!

 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
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That looks super cool! I don't think chickens would like my mastiff too much. 😀
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9691
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I hope the design is helpful.

The mastiff might like chickens - too much!
 
Kempy Dupree
Posts: 21
Location: South East Texas
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Yes Tyler, the design gives me a great idea on where to start.
 
Watch the full PDC and ATC from home. As much or as little as you want: http://kck.st/2q6Ycay.
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