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Reforestation - Growing trees in arid, barren lands - by Seeds and Clay cubes (no watering)  RSS feed

 
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Dear Kostas,
I watered the seeds maybe once in 3 months as there were only tiny holes in the box. And as I made the holes so I did not have to open the box to get oxygen. So the straightforward way is to get wet sand with the seeds in a box, make small holes (needle thick, there is not much respiration going on), put in the fridge and forget about them. While cleaning the fridge once in a while, check if still humid. By the way, the activated carbon adsorbed so much water compared to the sand that I didn’t have to water if I recall.
 
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Great, thank you Hans...good description...I will try it this year.

Kostas
 
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Hey Konstantinos,

Of the seeds you planted the first year, how many trees came up and how many are still living now?

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Sheri,

The 1st “test batch” we did of almonds, near Thessaloniki (2012), were I think 12 almonds...we placed 12 almonds in clay soil, and I think all of them survived (11 or 12 of them).

Near them, as mentioned before, we placed almonds every 3 meters or so, at the side of the road, for 2 kilometers. ..had to come back again, the next 2 or 3 years to fill in the gaps....this “small” project is done….mother nature and time will dictate how fast and how big the trees will grow.


Kostas
 
Sheri Menelli
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Hello Konstantinos,

I've been thinking of this thread and what you've done for several days now. My instinct tells me that there is a better way to reforest.

I believe some of this was discussed earlier about a guild. When you are dong the clay cubes are you just doing 1 kind of seed - like almond?

You might benefit by doing a dozen or more seeds in a cube. Something was mentioned earlier in the thread about a guild and you mentioned planing in a 10 foot diameter then moving further away and doing something again in a 10 foot diameter.  I think that is what the landscape needs. More plants in a smaller area that are diverse. I've experimented with Vetch and I'm so impressed. A LOT of biomass and it reseeds itself easy and has a nice carpet of green on the ground to shade the earth. I've heard that fruit trees like another tree (like a nitrogen fixing one as a nurse plant - a bit of shade until they get bigger)

Other ideas  - Dikon Radish, clover, nasturtium, sweet potato (yes that would be digging not a seed but they love heat), pigeon Pea (gorgeous huge bush with flowers and edible pods and also fixes nitrogen), pomegranate

Other ones that are not from seed are grape and fig. I can't believe how much biomass they both produce. You can easily stick cuttings in the ground.

Sheri

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank you Sheri,

These are good ideas, looking forward to hearing from you and maybe some photos of the results in your area.

Kostas
 
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:You mentioned good points...incorporating legumes and native grasses will be beneficial...I been thinking for sometime to change the planting pattern...instead of placing seeds in the ground every three feet, maybe a 10 feet diameter circle can used...in this circle all the appropriate tree seeds can be planted closely together...in this circle legumes and native grasses can be planted or simply scattered..they will help the trees seeds to survive and improve the soil. The next circle can be 20 feet away. The advantage of this scheme is that we will create intense micro climate and rapid soil build up within the circle. The space in between the circles can be used by people to walk and harvest the fruits and nuts or for sheep or goats to graze, after the trees have fully grown... provided they are strictly controlled.



Hello Kostas, and hello all

I started reading this thread a couple of days ago and am so far up to page 14 - what an inspiration and wealth of information!! There are so many threads and links to follow, but each one sparks a whole deeper knowledge, and provides many more options and ideas for achieving similar outcomes in northern Algarve, Portugal. I will echo some of your existing trials - thank you for the updates and insights - and look forward to your discoveries and possible diversification into creating 'planting families' to complement the tree plantings.

Comfrey
Have you thought of using Comfrey root (Symphytum officinale) in your clay balls, or as part of your planting circles? It's a fantastic herb, grows like mad unaided, survives drought (I planted some in a pot five or so years ago, grew really well, then I forgot about it and it has baked in the sun for three or so years, (pot bound, no water, no love) I recently dug up the root, chopped it into 1 inch lengths and threw it in the ground. It's bounded back and is now growing like mad again. So, for something that could be cut to the size of an Almond pit, and just thrown in the ground, it's an amazingly versatile herb (nitrogen fixer, bees love the flowers, deep and robust root system, chop n drop compost/soil improver/mulch, medicinal, companion plant for so many fruiting trees). May be be a good planting circle candidate?

Willow
Another thought, I have recently discovered the wonderful properties of Willow (Salix) Again this can be chopped into short pieces (1-2inches) and just stuck in the ground (or combined into your clay balls?) I have recently planted this as part of another experiment exploring the potential assistive properties on other plants growth rate. Willow is used as a rooting hormone alternative (willow water - cut small pieces, add to a jar of boiling water, leave overnight to stew, and then water cuttings with the liquid) Maybe this liquid could be incorporated into your clay ball production somehow? I am experimenting with planting willow sticks next to other cuttings/seeds to see if the willow plant itself encourages rooting. I hesitated suggesting willow until I found out it was also edible! (http://wildfoodsandmedicines.com/willow/)

This will be my first year on a barren/dry/un irrigated little plot of land I just bought in northern Algarve, and my primary aim is to identify and sow only drought tolerant edibles. I'd like to identify more wild/drought tolerant/native nut variety versions of the following: chestnut, hazelnut, almond, pecan, pitaschio, pine, others??

Does anyone have experience of, or suggestions for growing wild nut trees? What varieties? Drought tolerant? Self starters?

I have one olive, three pomegranate, and one giant fig on the land - all severely neglected, non irrigated, and seemingly doing just fine. I'll be exploring harvesting and planting seeds from these existing trees, and other local/native edible trees as I walk and gather in the surrounding areas.

Thanks for the inspiration and continued wealth of knowledge, I hope to add to this as I learn what the land wants to tell me!  
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Shari,

Thank for this wonderful info...

I am familiar with comfrey, but I always thought it needed plenty of moisture, and was not appropriate for hot dry climates. ...
You are saying that in Southern Portugal, comfrey roots thrown on the ground , without care or watering, will drop roots and survive ?  

The wilow pieces you stuck in the ground....you watered them, until they rooted?

If you need seeds to start your project, I will be glad to send you a small package.

Kostas
 
Sheri Menelli
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Thank you Sheri,

These are good ideas, looking forward to hearing from you and maybe some photos of the results in your area.

Kostas



Although I live in the drylands, we are in a suburb of San Diego that gets water from the city so I'm in a different situation.

That being said, my irrigation is broken, some pipe broke under the driveway a few years ago. Although we only average 10-12 inches a year and I'm notorious for not watering often at all, My yard is still doing pretty well. We did get 20 inches last year, the three years before that we had 5 inches, 5 inches and 6 inches of rain for the year.

Like the other Shari who posted I also think Comfrey might help you. I've planted it and ignored it and it still has grown on no water. I plant it under my fruit trees. The worms LOVE it, It creates shade and green mulch.

Vetch did very well here on reseeds itself. Popcorn Cassia is also very hardy in my yard on little to no water.
 
Sheri Menelli
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This story might inspire.

Interesting that he grew his own trees because he had better luck than with the seeds.


 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Sheri,

Thank you for sharing these amazing stories....they should become common, all over the world..its doable !!!

I would like to share the story of the Sidi Toui National Park in Tunisia.

See.      Sidi Toui Park ---Desert

All they did was to stop grazing, and the land is bouncing back. ..why would anyone graze goats in that place is beyond me, but even in that hostile environment life can bounce back !!!

Kostas

 
Sheri Menelli
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Pictures of my yard with the guilds.

I'm not an expert so I've made a lot of mistakes but on the other hand I rarely water  - I sometimes go 4-5 weeks without watering and my trees are alive. I wish I had followed Mollison's advice and really paid attention to them the first 2 years. If I had done that it would be very different.

Cherry tree is covered with Passion fruit vine. That was an accident. I'll have to trim that back soon. Under Cherry is comfrey and nasturtium (just about gone and dead for season)

Apple tree has comfrey and peas (peas almost dead)

Persimmon tree guild - lots there! Yarrow, lemon grass, Chamomile, some of my herbs. Other plants like hickory. I forget the names of some of the others right now. This area stays nice with little water and lots of worms. First guild I really did.

Pomegranate and Fig guild - lemon grass, geranium, cape honeysuckle, lavender. I had some peas in there and other flowers

Loquat guild - I have it next to geranium and star jasmine. At one point I hadn't watered the tree for 6 months. Just was ignored.

I should be adding more diversity. I'm a VERY lazy person. I really don't get into the yard much. I could really use some help.

I'll try to show more pictures and give more details. I do have more plants around some of them that I forgot to mention

Sheri
loquat-guidJPG.JPG
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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Lazy and smart....great combo...please post more photos....

Kostas
 
Sheri Menelli
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more photos
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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What zone are you st Sheri?

The photos speak for themselves!!!

Kostas
 
Sheri Menelli
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Kostas,

My zone is 10A. I'm 6 miles from the Ocean near San Marcos, California.

The banana circle looks pretty good because I feed my laundry water to it. I might be the only one in my entire subdivision of 2000 homes that does that. I also divert all the rainwater into the soil or into rain barrels.

I also try to mulch heavily.

Sheri
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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You are south southern cal.... Dry Mediterranean climate.... Come October n November,  try all the seeds we talk about here,  and let us know how they do.... You should cold stratify the apple seeds....

Congrats on your mini forests

Kostas
 
Sheri Menelli
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Kostas,

Here is what I'm thinking based on all of our experience and knowledge. I'd like to brainstorm on it.

This method I'm thinking of would take more time for the first planting but I think if you had a strong start in a 10 foot diameter area, it would
allow you to expand without as much work.

Based on the video that I posted above the guy that reforested started growing his own trees
in pots because he had better luck with that over the seeds.

So I think the ideal thing would be to:
1. Start the tree seeds at home - do a few nitrogen fixing trees, a few deciduous trees, a few fruit trees
2. Start rooting some cuttings - Pomegranate, olive, fig, mulberry (I've gotten mulberry to grow on very little water)
3. start other plants by seed or cuttings that would be more successful as as putting out as a plant rather than a seed like lemongrass, rosemary, mint, oregano,
4. collect a handful of soil from places that are lush with vegetation that already have some of the trees your are planting. Make sure that soil is in the pots with the seeds.


Once the rainy season starts and you've had a little rain first, go to the area to reforest.
1.  Start planting guilds heavily in a small 10 foot diameter and you could spread out as you have more plants and seeds. I think the guilds and the close
planting helps to keep moisture in and multiple diverse plants support themselves - especially when the area is so degraded.
2. Dig swale or two so that the area will really soak in the rain. Plant the first fruit tree on that berm next to swale in that newly dug up swale.
3. Bring a truck of mulch.
4. Put down the mulch first. (I've read that this is better that planting then putting down mulch as far as results)
5. Plant fruit tree in the middle. Plant 4 nitrogen bushes/trees around that fruit tree but about 3 feet away. Make sure one can nurse the
fruit tree so plant it so it will give it dapple shade during day.
6. Plant everything else within the 10 foot diameter in between and see what ends up taking. If there is mulch and you are planting seeds, move the mulch put in the seed and cover with a bit of soil. Don't put the mulch back on that part.
7. Things you could plant but you don't have to do all - borage, chamomile, dikon radish, lemongrass, chicory, rosemary, garlic, yarrow, comfrey, sweet potato, geranium, oregano, mint, artichoke, mint, rhubarb, nasturtium, daffodil. Some of these will be by seed and some will be plants that you grew and have good roots)

I can draw a picture and post it if it helps to see it on paper.

Drop in some worms and soil that you've taken from healthy forested areas for the microbes.

See what takes and does well and tweak it - or expand it by starting another guild close by that would touch this one.

It is a lot more work than what you have been doing but I suspect that the strength of the guild and plants would be 10 times faster with regeneration.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Sheri,

Thank for an excellent letter...great points….very useful !!!

I would like to make a few points, if I may…

No trees from cuttings and hormones...they are weak creatures, much inferior to trees grown from seed, and should not be used for reforestation purposes;they have short life spans

The need for trees is huge...in the billions, if not trillions….Southern California/Mexico...maybe 90%, is desert, in Africa they are trying to build the Great Green Wall to stop the desert, but if they plant trees from seedlings, they will never finish...the same applies to the Chinese, with their Gobi desert….Greece used to be heavily forested 3000 years ago, but now many of the islands and part of the mainland are left bare.

In the meantime, summers are getting longer and hotter, and clean water supplies are dwindling....many of the Greek islands are running out of drinking water...Turning of the water supply, is I think nature’s way of evicting us !!!

Our main focus should be trees, shrubs and plants grown on site from seed, without assistance...it has a cost advantage of more than 100. ...1st achieve ground cover, then plant more, and different varieties...spend no more than 2 to 3 minutes per circle….this allows a single person to have a big Impact.

If you dealing with a completely rocky, barren hill, and you have the time and funds to reforest it, then you are absolutely right about bringing in mulch and swales etc.

If you are creating food forests near towns or cities, for public consumption, and you have plenty of volunteers and some funds, then everything you suggest should be followed.

I am hoping others in this forum, will try the almonds, plums etc in their areas, and report back the results...unless verified by others, my results alone will not count/matter.

Again thank you for your thoughtful input.


Kostas
 
Shari Bee
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:I am familiar with comfrey, but I always thought it needed plenty of moisture, and was not appropriate for hot dry climates. ...
You are saying that in Southern Portugal, comfrey roots thrown on the ground , without care or watering, will drop roots and survive ?  

The wilow pieces you stuck in the ground....you watered them, until they rooted?

If you need seeds to start your project, I will be glad to send you a small package.



Hello Kosta,

Thank you for such a speedy reply.

The comfrey was planted an inch down (rather than left on the ground) but yes, after being dried up and dormant for several years, I planted the root pieces, added a little water, and left it.

I will try this again but without any watering at the initial planting stage.

If mindful of locating the comfrey root in natural dips/hollows where water would naturally accumulate after rain, the pooled water may rehydrate and initiate growing. What I found interesting about the comfrey root was its ability to spring back to life from a seemingly 'dead' state. If this is possible, having comfrey shoot into life every winter/spring, their roots mining the ground a little further, their leaves dying back in the heat of summer, adding compost to the ground, and then laying dormant until the next rain event, could offer a powerful partnership in reforestation. This cycle could repeat until the ecosystem gradually supports itself and the comfrey remains year round. An interesting experiment.

The willow I did water, but I have been surprised by how vigorous and how quickly life took hold! The roots and abundant leaves appeared within one week. And they continue to flourish. Again, (as with comfrey) possibly plant out in winter/spring to benefit from the rains.

I would like to try planting willow saplings with a selection of nut/fruit trees, alongside a group of the same nut/fruit trees without the willow partner, to observe the growing success of each group. Unirrigated.

Thank you for your kind offer of seeds, yes please! I will message you my mail address. I could send you some pomegranate seeds (once harvested later this year) if these would be of interest? Maybe also a small collection of locally sourced seeds after some foraging?

Kind Regards,

Shari

 
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We use  'seed balls', simply made by mixing seeds with clay, sometimes using a concrete mixer or other form of tumbler.
You finish up with balls of clay which you throw around, and when there is enough they available, they grow.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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That sounds great John, thank you for posting

Can you please provide details, and maybe some pictures ....what kind of seeds, what is your climate like...

Thanks

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Shari,

Looking forward to may be getting some comfrey roots and seeds to try out....if they behave in a similar manner to cactus pads, it would nake reforesting and land rehabilitation, a lot easier, I have plenty of seeds when you are ready.

I am also glad to hear about the willow saplingsl

Thank You

Kostas
 
John C Daley
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The seed balls are generally used for revegetating natural bushland. Of course they can be used for any seeds, one advantage of them is that
ants do not carry them away and eat them.
My climate is Mediateranian, Central Victoria, Australia.
Hot, dry annual rainfall 18 inches although this year we are running at 68% of average rainfall.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello John,

I assume you seed these areas for grazing (sheep...cattle)  or is it to restore the land ?

Have you tried planting trees with the seed balls ?

Kostas
 
John C Daley
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Mainly restoration of land, trees etc.
It would not be efficient with sheep etc, that is done in a traditional farming manner with ploughs, seeders etc.
Seed balls just sit and wait to get wet enough to germinate the seed, and get past rabbits, humans etc to grow big.
Each seed ball will have any number of seeds, it cannot be controlled so the whole system is random

A quick search came up with a few references
Seedballs
 
Sheri Menelli
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Kostas,

Are you ok in Greece? I heard that there are bad fires.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank you for asking Sheri....we are well and far away from the fires....but its sad to see the human loss and destruction.

Hopefully the planners and doers  around the world, will learn...pine trees burn like torches, and should be removed and replaced near the built environnent with drought tolerant, multi use, slow burning trees.

Its not difficult !!!

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/amp/Scorched-by-fierce-fires-parts-of-California-and-12464399.php

A good article on what is ahead of us....

The loss of trees will increase ground temperature,  and decrease rainfall... Not a pleasant cycle.... But it can be repaired!!!

I hope all everyone is safe in CA.... It's difficult to see your surroundings burn....

Please share your stories

Kostas
 
Shari Bee
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Looking forward to may be getting some comfrey roots and seeds to try out....if they behave in a similar manner to cactus pads, it would nake reforesting and land rehabilitation, a lot easier, I have plenty of seeds when you are ready.



Hi Kostas, thanks for your email response earlier, I will be harvesting seeds this coming week so should be able to get them off to you shortly after harvesting and cleaning/drying, along with some comfrey root as promised. Are you home yet and ready to receive? Looking forward to receiving your seed selection of fruits and nuts when you are able. Very excited to get planting this autumn!

Btw, I learned about the 'Miyawaka method' recently - a methodology for recreating natural forests by very densely planting different varieties of native trees together in a small space, based on canopy height - I'm adopting this approach on the land in Portugal. Will let you know how it goes

"Miyawaki Method of Creating Forest. The miyawaki method of afforestation / planting trees involves the planting a number of different types of trees close together in a small pit. By closely planting many random trees close together in a small area enriches the green cover and reinforces the richness of the land."

Maybe you could try this method of planting out your seeds - closely together and in mixed batches (rather than similar plantings?) within a small piece of terrain, and see what happens. Interesting experiment.

Kind Regards, Shari
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Shari,
I should be back in my home base in mid September....As soon as I get back, I will mail you the seeds.

For me seed placement starts in October 1st and ends in December 1st...we should have enough time to exchange seeds.

The Miyawaka method sounds interesting...we should experiment with it....he has done a lot of work...what is interesting, is his point of view on conifers and how they populated Japan !!! They are the dominant tree in Greece also, but most likely on their way out...

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello everyone,
An update...
Last winter we placed various seeds in trenches to see which ones fit our criteria,  and survive the summer without watering...
As mentioned previously last winter was unusually warm and dry....

Of all the seeds we placed only the Quercus ilex, oak did well!!!

We need to verify that this oak does well in other locations,  but it's encouraging to see it do so well... It will join the plums,  almonds etc for this year's planting.

Kostas
IMG_20181002_110805793-2.jpg
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Quercus ilex the Great OAK
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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It's the end of October and the rains have not come yet...usually they arrive by mid September at the latest !!!
The same happened last year.

Kostas

 
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I would stay away from willow plants as they suck up water everywhere.  I also would recommend look like others have mentioned try to think about introducing Nitrogen fixing trees/bushes or plants every 3 or 4th tree.  

A big idea is once you can bring in animals who will help add nutrients, etc.  Possibly start with a couple of chickens.  At some point you need to bring in animals.

Gabe Brown's notes:

1. Use the least amount of mechanical or chemical disturbance possible — Keep tilling to a bare minimum and strive to avoid all synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

2. Armor the soil surface with living plants — Forest and prairie land is completely covered with vegetation, and this is the environment farmers need to emulate. That vegetation protects the soil not only from wind and water erosion, but also from excessive heating and cooling. These living plants are what end up actually "growing" topsoil.

3. Have living roots in the soil as long as possible — This is an extension of armoring with cover crops. Soil is formed from growing plants that take in carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, and release it as "liquid carbon" through the roots, depositing it back into the soil, where it attracts microorganisms that ultimately end up providing the plant with all the nutrients it needs to grow.

4. Diversify — Having a diverse array of plant life is essential, and cover crops fulfill this requirement as well.  Cover crops, helping to improve the soil, attract beneficial insects and capture more sunlight (energy).

5. Integrate livestock and other animals, including insects — Flowering plants that attract pollinators and predator insects will naturally help ward off pests that might otherwise decimate your main crop.
 
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I just want to say this thread is fascinating for me. Full of relevant information for my climate. Were I live (Arizona), we have heavy alkaline clay with many rocks and only 6 inches of rainfall each year (however, I have optimal rain collection systems in place). For about four months we're subject to consistent temperatures between 90 to 130 degrees-- it does not cool off at night. Aggressive winds. The most prolific volunteer trees in the area are acacia willows (large fast growing nitrogen fixing canopy trees) and Mexican fan palms, but I've seen many species do well unattended: pomegranate, eucalyptus, olive, mesquite, bougainvillea (not a tree, but reaches tree size), Indian laurel, and others.

On my own property I have acacia willows, eucalyptus, Mexican fan palms, date palms, figs, olives, pomegranates, peaches, tamarind, argan, cypress, eldarica pine, apples, and various citrus. I was on the fence about almonds and apricots-- I saw them at the nursery and passed them up. I think I'll get some now, and make a guerrilla gardening attempt with their seeds. I'll let you know how it goes.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
pollinator
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Been following the news in California.....no words can describe what these folks must be experiencing !!!

If any of our members are in the area, please let us know if we can help...

After the fire and destruction ends we need to think of the next day and the lives of the next generations....

Houses that do not burn, but are earthquake resistant...concrete stone masonry...wood is out....

Trees that do not burn easily and resprout after a fire....fig trees, carobs, and many others, but not pines..
Trees that provide multiple functions...food oxygen shade etc.

In other cities that are surrounded by pines and are susceptible to fires....preventive measures need to be taken for fire protection.

"ουδέν κακό αμιγές καλού" out of every bad situation something good comes out...wise words


Kostas





 
hans muster
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Kostas: you got rain, even floods I read on the web?
Everything ok at your place?
If yes, did you take a walk to check the saplings?
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Hans,
Thank you for asking...
We are good so to speak here in northern Greece....its mid November and we just a bit of rain yesterday, and we should get some more in the coming days...this year's seed placement has been greatly delayed...

The oaks are doing well even with the dry spell, and so are the rest of trees in the group of seven....spring will show the results better....

Today, I met 2 Athenians and a gentleman from the island of Lesvos...both places have experienced fires and have bare landscapes...they showed an interest in reforestation....we will see....

How is everything at your end?

Kostas




 
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