Hello, My name is Russell, this is my first post. I manage a farm in Port Angeles, Washington, age 23, and have managed to get ahead of annual work to have time and surplus money to invest in a permaculture food forest design Idea i've been bubbling over for a while now.
To begin with, I live in zone 8b i believe (-8 deg last winter in the low spots) my design is going to take place on a mild slope down to that spot.
My idea is based on the design tests I did this year. It's really hard for me to think about explaining what i want to do so just hang with me a second:
I believe all gardens need to be designed for efficient accessibility (permies say duh) so that means I will be designing my hedges around my irrigation system, which can be either driptape for linear lined boring field work, or a layout to accommodate a sprinkler. Plus maybe if I fit in enoughtrees near the spinkler, maybe a variety will have that tree fall vitamin reaction from being hit with a sprinkler? hell maybe if i make the hedge dense enough I can just hose down the trees to canopy the moisture in. anyways
What I am designing is in two parts, one I want to create interconnecting circular mandala gardens with sprinklers in the center with the bottom side of the circle cut off due to being on a hill (highest point is south, goes down north). Plus these circles will be held higher than the decreasing elevation of the hill by cedar stakes painted with copper and layers of material starting from the soil having 5 inches of mulch on the side that touches the cedar walling, then alder branches, then cedar wall, thereby just acting as a thick mulch layer that has all the weight leaning against it. works right? if you are worried the trees will outlast the materials holding it to the hill, my solutions are simple: either swap out the steaks next to the previous ones in 10 years, for the crossing branches, just cut more and bend them to be released once behind the bracing cedar stakes. or maybe I should just minimize how much I tamper the soil around the trees. plus I have in mind to dig deep in the pockets of grow space and throw in a lot of my good soil/compost and for the blueberries throw in a heap of peat moss each. as for the mulch I plan to make it intensely thick in places above the circle gardens, and in the center to act as the course grain that allows the seepage of water from uphill will be my old soggy cottonwood stumps that i will cut up. ideas?
the plants for those would be in order to fill in every size to create a canopy, so here is my idea: In the front, depending on how much I want to really water these and how much clay is in the soil i choose, I'm thinking Strawberries and kinnikinik on the ground, raspberries in the front circle but maybe service berries to hug the tree? I thought about seaberries, but they get to big, need better deeper soil than whats there, and more sun/heat. PLUS I have learned to enjoy plants that fruit multiple times a year, so when we have wet springs like this one we don't loose all of that sector's crop. behind the front "EDGE" plants would either be strawberry trees, edible varieties of mountain ash, or maybe paw paws but i already have those. in the back depending on spacing I was thinking blue huckleberries, or maybe a fall yellow raspberry that will recieve more sun as it lowers below the tree branches as they will be lower down the hill too.
I have a lot of money to throw at this project,so give me ideas for plants and maybe edge hedge row design links or information. otherwise Imma just dig swale 'ditches' and redirect every inch of that hill to funnel into a planter cedar staked bed and make as efficient of a layout as possible. just to let you know there will be an array of other plants in the ground cover mix, everything from clovers, vetch, to poppies and nasturtiums. I need ideas for low-impact vineing plants
2nd project: The farm down the road is downsizing their blueberry crop, so im going to buy it up! I have another hill, actually just next to the previously mentioned one, this one I would like ot tier down. is it ignorant to put blueberries on the same cedar stakes tier system, that gets roughly 85% sun. I sure have enough fire wood but was thinking about doing a string of pines in the very back next to where the forest starts. I'm a firm believer in keeping your needs close, so i plant alfalfa next to all my fields, so might as well have some pine trees jetting up next to blueberries, right? it's next to a gravel road anyways so wouldn't kill off much.
There's a lot to take in from wha ti have just typed, but here should be some good pictures of half the 'test' garden i designed, and how successful it was. to give you the details, I made the walls of eat bed by mounding up the dirt i the center, putting in cedar stakes, then with JUST alder sapling limbs, i just laid bundle ontop of bundle going from left to right laying it down opposite. This is designed to accommidate a sprinkler in 1/3 turn roughly, worked really well. I only watered the garden twice this summer yet it grew at the same rate as what i water daily in the field. I weeded it once and due to the density and clover there was only thistle and nightshade. PLUS the whole thing that made it work was clover, I put red clover in the higher back of the bed, and white in the southern front. I was finding mushrooms growing out of the bed walls in the end of july without watering it in weeks.
those are june pictures too, so everything is BEEFED up, it's nice to walk on fresh clover that falls a foot and a half, even going through my 2'5" wide paths on my belly is a mind kick.
So help a farmer out, if you have simple SHAPES for designs, or ideas on EDGES and how to MAXIMIZE the edge potential of food output, also a list of plants that thrive on the edges of thickets, LET ME KNOW. I can make anything I want and need your insight to come up with a finished project.
So thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed reading. Russell
Hey Russell, I am not much help as you are already way ahead of me. I just wanted to congratulate you on all you have already accomplished at such a young age.
I am wanting kiwi vines, have rooted grape cuttings, and would like to try the vine peach. I am not sure what you mean by low impact... I also have morning glory growing off my deck. I have vining as well as buch beans and squash, and pees vine... I doubt this is much help as you seem to have thought it out well in advance.
what beautiful gardens...all i can say is for the hedges that fruit some other plants you might consider are elderberry, hackberry, bearberry, large fruited hawthorne, mulberry, plum or wild plum, cherry, pear, apple, peach, apricot etc ( maybe dwarfs that is what i've done in some places, i've also used semi dwarfs and standards and have a few super dwarfs).
you can string a few squashes along the hedges in the early going as they are growing to take advantage of the space, they won't damage the trees.
when you used the alder bundles, did you bury them in soil? like a hugel bed?
i have a lot of alder here, and some is coming down, i have thought of burying it as we do have a pond dig too, it would be buried in clay which will break down eventually if buried over the alder probably..i also have a lilac i need go cut down as the tops have died and it will do better to be coppiced..anhd i thought about burying that under the clay as well.
Bloom where you are planted.
why thank you for the compliments, I appreciate them.
to be honest I have not really planted much in the way of orchards. I am a berry guy, not much time invested into understanding trees beyond pruning them due to the orchards that are already set up at my location.
So for dwarf trees how would you plant them? in a hedge woud they just need their desired space between other trees? or since being dwarf they would need to be up front, in their own bubble, and without low growth competition?
Also i hope this sounds like a dumb question, but what is the reference for Guilds? like Blueberry guilds, i picture it just means a patch that has a purpose to be that patch with it's hierarchical mix of guild members. would be neat to know that one.
again thanks for the compliments, i will do update threads with more delemas and insight needed questions when i actually trade money for buckets of dirt and sticks.
ps i like the vineing idea, I have nasturtiums galore infront of my window for summer which is practical for shade and pretty for me. how will you be trellising your kiwis? I have some too which have been sitting in pots for two years and I havn't figure out how I am going to plant them with a layout/trellis because they need to be pruned so often I don't wnat it to be one of those dream projects that turns into a pity project.
My place is a little differant than most, my 3 "zones" are, horses have full access, horses have limited access, and horses have little access... so where I plant my kiwi will depend on how much protection from horses it needs. If they eat it or not. I have clematis in the front and it is pretty.
I would bring up kudzu from Alabama but my hubby says, NO! Horses eat it so I can't see how it could ever get away from me, but he won this one. He will be bringing up roots to plant of bi-color or shrub lespedeza,.. after much debate.
Again not much help by you have my moral support.
Here is something from my brother to me... plant every seed you get from the grocery, seeds from fruit for tree root stock. Graft onto it so plant everything! I also plant onions, carrots, beets, horseradish, and ginger from scraps. Anything that starts to sprout in the pantry also gets planted (potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions.
dwarf fruit trees are great with lower growing plants around them, just NOT grass..they don't like grass.
i have mine right in my flower and fruit/vegetable beds.. in my flower beds I have pear, cherry, apple, peach, almond, fruit cocktail and plum trees. under most of them are perennial flowers, and herbs, dayllillies, comfrey, siberian iris, poppies, etc. as well as smaller shrubs like the low growing spirea, barberry, hydrangeas, foxgloves..etc..all my flower gardens have trees in them and shrubs
in the food forest garden the dwarf trees are under planted by herbs, mult onions, rhubarb, asparagus, brambles, and also my annual vegetables except any that require digging or pulling, those are farther away from the trees so as not to disturb the roots.
i use no till methods so they just get chopped and dropped at the end of the season if they are annual and will not return the following year
Bloom where you are planted.