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How long until you 'turn the corner'?

 
Alex Riddles
Posts: 24
Location: Columbia Missouri
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I started my edible landscape five years ago. This Spring I have harvested something each day since March 28th. The plums are having a bad year. But the strawberries were great this year and the currants are loaded with fruit that will ripen soon. I expect to be harvesting from various perrenials continuously for about 8 months this year. I am finally seeing the results people talk about in these forums. In my case I am in central Missouri zone 6b and heavy clay soil.

I thought it might be encouraging to the newbees to know how long until they see results. What are other peoples experiences?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
pollinator
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
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With my plant breeding projects, I typically call the third generation 'magical' because the genetics are finally getting aligned well with my conditions.
 
Dan Boone
gardener
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a) ~39" rain/year
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I am roughly in year three and feeling pretty psyched because a recent walk about the property showed me a bunch of different places were tree seeds I poked in the soil in my first flush of enthusiasm about food forests are now chest-high saplings. Mostly pecans, some persimmons.
 
K Putnam
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Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
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I think this year, Year 3, would have been the year had we not had an awful drought last summer. My plants are recovering nicely, but if we had had a more normal summer, I think this would have been the year it really started to come together. This year is good, but I expect Year 4 to be the year it takes a life of its own and continues to thrive without so many inputs and corrections from it. Things are very close. I'm glad I didn't quit mid-drought in Year 2. This year has been much more rewarding.
 
Marco Banks
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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It's funny because every year I think, "Next year we'll REALLY see production ramp up around here", and it does, but I don't really notice it. I now have more oranges, limes, lemons and mandarines than I can eat. We give them away by the hundreds and still compost a ton more . . . but I feel like its not enough because the apple trees and plum trees haven't grown fast enough and produced enough trees.

We have avocados 6 months of the year now . . . but I always thing, "Next year, those two new trees will start to produce and THEN we'll have enough avocados to be generous to others."

The persimmon tree is really cranking out the fruit every fall, but still I think, "Just wait till that tree gets bigger -- then we'll be able to dry them and give more away."

Ginger is growing great all over the orchard, yet I can't wait until there is enough growing all over so that we don't have to be so stingy with it.

On and on it goes. My integrated food forest is 15 years old, and yet I still can't wait to see what it's going to be like when the trees continue to mature.

So the question is, will I ever get to a point where I'm totally satisfied with the production that's coming off the land and don't feel a need to continue to enhance things? Never. I'll always want more. That "corner" is always somewhere in the future --- some day, when the bees, chickens, fungi and grape vines are REALLY producing . . . it's a never-ending quest. I suppose every year represents a "turned corner", but we still are only getting about 40% (at most) of our nutrition from our garden and food forest, so there is always more than can be done.
 
John Weiland
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Location: RRV of da Nort
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Results for us have been many faceted, but we are not really not as embedded at this point in fully providing for our total diet as others. "Turning the corner" has meant changing our diet, adapting our favorite vegetables and crops for our growing situation, embracing some of the native and imported "weeds" as foods and medicinals (lambsquarter, purslane, burdock, nettle, etc).....and accepting failure when fruit trees just won't grow here or we have to shell out some cash for a new well-pump that died. So lots of angles to "turning the corner", but much of it being somewhat psychological in coming to terms what you need, and what you don't. But it feels pretty good to be approaching retirement and not wringing the hands over whether or not a financial nest egg is big enough....because the investment in the property will provide a great measure of security in this regard.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 621
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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K Putnam wrote:I think this year, Year 3, would have been the year had we not had an awful drought last summer. My plants are recovering nicely, but if we had had a more normal summer, I think this would have been the year it really started to come together. This year is good, but I expect Year 4 to be the year it takes a life of its own and continues to thrive without so many inputs and corrections from it. Things are very close. I'm glad I didn't quit mid-drought in Year 2. This year has been much more rewarding.

I've found an above-ground pool with a side drain to be an amazing resource in this regard in our climate. We get 36 inches a year or better of rain [on average at least], and the summers tend to be cool enough that it evaporates slowly [even moreso if it's constructed on a north-south axis with trees overhanging on each side.] I lost about 20 inches to evaporation by the time the rain came last year without shade and without any sort of cover. If I had plants that needed irrigation for establishment [which I actually do this year, and am grateful to have the resource] I had all that water right on hand.

[Note: I don't fill this pool by hose at all. It's all rain-fed without any additional water catchment]
 
K Putnam
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Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
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I've found an above-ground pool with a side drain to be an amazing resource in this regard in our climate. We get 36 inches a year or better of rain [on average at least], and the summers tend to be cool enough that it evaporates slowly [even moreso if it's constructed on a north-south axis with trees overhanging on each side.] I lost about 20 inches to evaporation by the time the rain came last year without shade and without any sort of cover. If I had plants that needed irrigation for establishment [which I actually do this year, and am grateful to have the resource] I had all that water right on hand.

[Note: I don't fill this pool by hose at all. It's all rain-fed without any additional water catchment]


Great idea!

When I moved to my property, I got a quote to put in a nice catchment system with a pump: $10,000. I might be willing to invest that if I knew I was going to stay here for 40 years, but I know that I'm not. So, yes, other alternatives would be good.

I have a dilapidated pond that I really need to figure out how to utilize better. The people who put it in dug it into the worst possible location, underneath a bunch of big leaf maples...and then they build the chicken coop directly next to it. I call it the Leaf Bog Horror Show. Two years ago, I drained it and cleaned it, only to find that the leaves had been plugging a hole in the liner, so then it wouldn't hold water. Until, of course, fall came and it filled with leaves again. Its only current upside is that the frogs and tadpoles love it. I suppose whatever algae bacteria leaf muck in the water wouldn't harm trees if I pumped it out of there? If it was at the top of the property, I could do something sepp holzer style and let it gravity feed down throughout my various gardens, but no...it's at the bottom. In the woods.

On a side note, after last summer, I put ollas in the form of clay pots in my garden this year. Even with all the rain we've had over the last couple of weeks, it is stunning the difference in the plants next to the pots and those I have not gotten to yet. All my cabbages quintupled in size except the ones not by the pots...even with all this rain! Water management is definitely a corner I am still working on turning, though the pots have been a major step forward this year.
 
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