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Understory Fruit Project

 
master pollinator
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This is part of a larger food forest project I mentioned in this other thread: http://www.permies.com/t/50090/forest-garden/Support-species-dry-food-forest

I'm planning a small grove of domestic Plums in the understory of three Cedar Elms. Native Texas Persimmon are already there as understory fruits. We had a few native Plums on our land but they seem to have died. In addition to the domestic Plums, I'll be planting as many support species as I can squeeze in there, plus some annual vegetables. I'll be creating a berm and basin for this planting, and building a buried wood bed for the Plums, which I will plant in the Fall or next Winter. Arrows indicate water flow on this very slight slope:

plumproject.jpg
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Tyler Ludens
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Progress as of today; part of the berm constructed, and some of the buried wood bed excavated:

plumprojectfeb27.jpg
[Thumbnail for plumprojectfeb27.jpg]
 
Tyler Ludens
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Finished the excavation of the plum hole; I dug down until I hit a rock shelf, about 18 inches max. Filled the hole with wood. The plums themselves will be planted just uphill of the buried wood, but not on it, as I don't want them to settle below the surrounding grade.

plumhole.jpg
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plumholewood.jpg
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Tyler Ludens
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Finished fencing the Plum Project, and planted it (except not the plums). Some of the seeds planted: Honeylocust, Palo Verde, Moringa, False Indigo Bush, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Esperanza, Cowpea, Black-eyed Pea, melons, winter squash, tomatoes, peppers, and a mixture of flowering plants and some old things I had in the fridge.
plumplanted.jpg
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Tyler Ludens
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Upon observing this space as the overstory leafs out and grows, I'm thinking it would not be prudent to try to grow more trees here, but instead move down to the shrub layer for fruit. So this thread should be retitled "Understory Fruit Project."

 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's what the space looks like recently:
forestgarden.jpg
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Hey Tyler, any updates on your understory fruit project?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you for reminding me!  I'll post a couple pics.  I didn't end up planting multiple plums together except in one spot where only one of a pair are doing well.  Two more plums are planted singly.  I've also planted 4 varieties of Elderberry, a Persian Mulberry, and five Fig trees.  All of these trees will be kept pruned to shrub size.

Additional food plants include Asparagus, Garlic Chives, Canada Onions, Chile Piquin, Spineless Prickly Pear Cactus, and a couple of annuals; Seminole Pumpkin and Tatume Squash.  I planted seeds of several support legumes which are now small or medium-sized seedlings; Rattlebush, Pride of Barbados, Esperanza, Pigeon Pea, and Honey Locust.  

Like most food forests, it photographs poorly.
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Nice project, Tyler.  How many acres are you working with there?  I've got access to five acres that has plenty of understory development potential and would like to get something like that started on it soon.

Tyler Ludens wrote: All of these trees will be kept pruned to shrub size.



Do you have a good resource for learning how to do this correctly?  I have a mulberry sapling that I will be transplanting at our new house and don't want it to get 20 or 30 feet tall.  I'd like to keep it a manageable size for harvesting.  Thanks!
 
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Vernon Inverness wrote:Nice project, Tyler.  How many acres are you working with there?  I've got access to five acres that has plenty of understory development potential and would like to get something like that started on it soon.

Tyler Ludens wrote: All of these trees will be kept pruned to shrub size.



Do you have a good resource for learning how to do this correctly?  I have a mulberry sapling that I will be transplanting at our new house and don't want it to get 20 or 30 feet tall.  I'd like to keep it a manageable size for harvesting.  Thanks!




Mulberry couldn't be simpler.  Cut it off any height you like.  It doesn't care.  I have cut them off at the ground, at a foot, at two feet, at five feet.  Cut it off and cut every branch off if you like.  It doesn't matter, they come back.  I wish everything was that tough.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thanks, Vernon. That area is maybe a quarter of an acre.  The entire fenced area containing the house is about one acre, which I plan to develop intensively for food production and small critter habitat.  The rest of our 20 acres is dedicated to wild animal habitat.

I don't have a specific resource for pruning techniques, I mostly look online to see what other people are doing to keep their trees small.
 
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https://permies.com/t/95922/Intrinsic-Agriculture-Altered-Chaos
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