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I think I quit...

 
Isabelle Gendron
Posts: 173
Location: Montmagny, Québec, Canada (zone 4b)
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it is 4 years now (fifth season) that I work my garden Emilia Hazelip way, that I grow food forest and tryyyyy to have a cover plant to grow out the weeds.

First in the garden: Here it is mainly impossible to get straw without seeds. So every year I struggle with grass in the garden. Then I tyed wool... don't like it at all, I shop and drop green grass and plant before seeds . This is this year so we wil se how it goes. But without returning the soil, it was supposed to grow less and less weeds. Well can't say it is working cause now, I have burdock growing in the garden that was probably under the garden years ago and now wants to come out.

Then the food forest. I put tarp on the ground, cardboard, then compost and mulch, but after a cople of months (and the season is short) grass and plants are coming back like if I did nothing. SO the minut I cut or mow a place, the enxt thing that grow is rasberries (wild) it is hawfull. I sowed vetch and clover but can't seems to have time to grow or are overwelmed by the natives.

Now I was woundering. What if I plant trees, shrubs and let nature do the rest? My forest section here is very nice. I think I will try to mimic this. And I will definitly plant trees closer than what they say....I have to say though that trees and,shrubs are doing good.

For the garden, last year. If I can't have a decent crop, I will rototilt next year and start a ¨regular¨garden. Unless you have a idea? I am out of imagination now

Thanks

Isabelle
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 307
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Isabelle Gendron wrote:it is 4 years now (fifth season) that I work my garden Emilia Hazelip way, that I grow food forest and tryyyyy to have a cover plant to grow out the weeds.

First in the garden: Here it is mainly impossible to get straw without seeds. So every year I struggle with grass in the garden. Then I tyed wool... don't like it at all, I shop and drop green grass and plant before seeds . This is this year so we wil se how it goes. But without returning the soil, it was supposed to grow less and less weeds. Well can't say it is working cause now, I have burdock growing in the garden that was probably under the garden years ago and now wants to come out.

Then the food forest. I put tarp on the ground, cardboard, then compost and mulch, but after a cople of months (and the season is short) grass and plants are coming back like if I did nothing. SO the minut I cut or mow a place, the enxt thing that grow is rasberries (wild) it is hawfull. I sowed vetch and clover but can't seems to have time to grow or are overwelmed by the natives.

Now I was woundering. What if I plant trees, shrubs and let nature do the rest? My forest section here is very nice. I think I will try to mimic this. And I will definitly plant trees closer than what they say....I have to say though that trees and,shrubs are doing good.

For the garden, last year. If I can't have a decent crop, I will rototilt next year and start a ¨regular¨garden. Unless you have a idea? I am out of imagination now

Thanks

Isabelle


I know the feeling, but don't get too discouraged. This thing we call gardening is all about trial and error really. Sometimes, it's best to start with some sort of soil disturbance like rototilling or even just lightly turning the soil over - the really nasty weeds and especially the clumping grasses just laugh at a layer of straw mulch. The cardboard usually helps a lot, but still, once it's wet, those raspberries and blackberries will punch right through, and once you have a hole, everything else will come along for the ride

4 things I'll say that might be helpful, might not be.

1) Go thick and don't worry about seeds. See if you can get mulch hay. Put a layer down that's like 10 inches thick when it's dry - it will compress in the rain and before you know it, you've got maybe 3 inches there, but that 3 inches is hard to break through.

2) Eat what you grow, even if it's burdock - they're tasty and really good for you. A lot of the weeds we've been trained to reflexively pull and throw in the compost heap are actually pretty tasty foods with more nutrition than the stuff we set out trying to grow in the first place. Dandelion, plantain, yellow dock, sorrel, lambs quarters ... the list goes on and on - many were brought here from Europe by colonists and settlers back in the day because they were considered valuable foods, and the best part is that they grow like weeds

3) The burdock sprouting up *shows* that you're making a difference. Burdock loves deeper, more fertile soils - the fact that it's sprouting up means you've accomplished that. It does also mean you might have some mineral deficiencies in your soil, though - it mines minerals with its deep taproot and produces huge plants full of those minerals that make excellent compost as a way of repairing the soil for other plants. Keep going with what you're doing for another year or two and the burdock wont want to live there anymore and will die out on its own. There are so many seeds down there in the soil that it could be hundreds of years before the seed bank is depleted, but the thing is, each one is waiting for its perfect conditions to sprout. As your soil changes, so will the weeds growing in it...eventually, that soil will be so fertile that your "weeds" just might be chestnuts, walnuts and paw paw trees!

4) Trust your gut - you're on the right track with planting your food forest. It's all about seeing what works in the wild and then mimicking it. Nature grows things well but us people, by observing what's going on out there and applying what you learn, can do it just as well if not better! A good example is the thing with planting 50% nitrogen fixers in a new food forest. Those N-fixers are all pioneer trees and shrubs (think about birches, aspens, alders and raspberries - always the first things to pop up and they grow FAST then die young). The pioneers move in to an area and enrich the soil so the other trees and shrubs that need better conditions can move in later. By copying that with a lot of super-charged pioneers that fix nitrogen, mine nutrients and grow super fast, we accelerate the process. We further accelerate it by doing the chop-and-drop method, cycling the nutrients faster than good ol' mother nature would have done it herself. Huglekulture mimics the process when a tree falls in the forest, eventually getting covered with leaves and rotting under the newly developing soil. Sheet mulching mimics the process of grasses being trampled down into a mat by herds of bison or other large herbivores in the savannas and grasslands. Even throwing azomite, greensand and dolomitic lime on your garden is mimicking a natural process (erosion of rocks into loam). Observing what happens in the wild is always #1 - the trick is in figuring out how to replicate it in some way

Here where I am, we had an awful time at first getting our annual plants to grow from seed. In fact, we still have a lot of trouble with it. We switched to doing a lot more starting plants in pots and trays then transplanting into our mulched beds. We had the best luck with our trees and shrubs, but even they didn't do great when we first started. Our soil is hard, heavy, wet clay with a low pH - it wants to be a yellow birch, hemlock and balsam fir forest. After a few years, though, things started to change. It took many applications of lime, lots of work scything, dozens of pounds of seeds and a whole heck of a lot of patience, but it's started to change. Every new area I open up is the same - trees, blackberries and raspberries come back with a vengeance and need to be scythed 4 or 5 times in our short growing season...clover wont even grow in the acidic soil and black locusts, which are practically bulletproof, stay stunted for years and often die...the only grasses that will even bother trying to grow are the most rough, coarse clumping varieties known to man. After a few years of diligence, though, other things start to grow - softer, more palatable grasses, dandelions and evening primrose - and the ferns which seemed like they'd never quit start to run out of steam. It's then that I can plant clover and vetch, apples and peaches, etc.

It's a long term project. Just think - you're trying to speed up a cycle that normally takes a hundred years or more in the wild. Three, five or even seven years is pretty darn good

Still a "beginner" myself in so many respects and know how discouraging it can seem sometimes. It really does take a lot of patience and a lot of determination...that, a lot of money to just buy perfect soil premade and ready for a garden, or a whole lot of yucky chemicals. I, for one, prefer the patience and determination route
 
Isabelle Gendron
Posts: 173
Location: Montmagny, Québec, Canada (zone 4b)
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Thank you Tristan,

I think I needed that little tap in the back. Same thing here with the seedlings in the garden. Have hard times getting them to sprout. Ask me the last time I ate a normal size carrots?

Talking about burdock, I harvested some this morning and we will try it tonight in a saute. Hope it will do the job, at least, it would serve a purpose

I will bring more straw. I have a lot,. I am always nervous to see if the tiny carrots, or aneth seedling will be able to go trough. Here I have no problem having things to grow (except in the garden, on the contrary, it is a problem controling what is growig naturally (grass etc. But at least, all the wild flowers and trees are great for the hives.

Well, I will give it a try another couple of years.

Thanks for you kind words

Isabelle
 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1194
Location: Denver, CO
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I would say that an initial tilling is helpful to kill weeds, especially if there are woody and deep rooted plants around. Straw will certainly not kill of raspberries or burdock.
 
K Putnam
Posts: 189
Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
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I think it's a good idea to keep a traditional garden until there has been enough time for a forest garden to build soil and figure out how your system wants to work. I certainly have. Otherwise, it's a bit like trying the build the boat as you go across the water. I'd rather be building soil and still have something to eat than not much to show for awhile. I was feeling discouraged this spring until I dug new holes for fruit trees and realized how much the soil in the other areas of my garden had improved and how much more manageable those sections are now. I can stick a trowel into them and actually go down into a layer of soil instead of just scratching at rocks and leached-out fill. Things are going much better this year. It took time and lot of helping things along for awhile.
 
alex Keenan
Posts: 487
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If you have burdock you have won!!!

Burdock flowers in it's second year.
All you have to do is cut the stalk (which are edible) when the flowers form in second year.
In spring plant is dead and you likely have a clear area to plant something.

If you use burdock sprout it and plant the seedlings. This way you will not have seed staying in your growing area for years.
 
Marla Kacey
Posts: 113
Location: Wyoming Zone 4
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" What Tristan said! I too have been working on this for many years, and am just now seeing results.
When I moved onto this large lot in a small town, neighbors said i was crazy (actually still do) to not weed & feed my nearly dead lawn. I've never liked the idea of poisons - anywhere. I found permies.com and felt vindicated in my adimence (spelling). I never did treat my lawn, except to pull out 'white top' and cut down thistle (but they're so pretty!). I only mowed when the grass was probably half knee high and then mowed it down to about 4". I left the dandelions - great jelly and mowed other 'weeds'. I noticed this week that with no water, my lawn is greener and taller than any of my neighbors - and I've already mowed twice.
The back yard is a little rough. I have had chickens for about 7 years now and after they tore up the back sufficiently, I now let them roam both front & back. No noticeable damage in the front now that the grass holds sufficient food for them. They even eat considerably less scratch & grain in the summer - by their choice!
One section of the yard used to hold a rundown beat-up motor home. I couldn't afford to have it fixed (would have loved that) and am not a mechanic, so had it hauled away. The next year that spot was covered with thistle. I cut it down and let it grow back for a whole year. The next year there was more variety of weeds. I cut or mowed them down and let them grow back all that year. The next year, I threw out some grass seed after mowing and by the end of the summer had noticeably more grass in that patch - with no water! The next year, I got a little busy at work and never mowed. I had waist high grass and SOME thistle and a variety of other hardly noticeable weeds. At the end of the summer, as everything was beginning to die off, I walked around and stomped grass and weeds down flat. Next year, I had mostly grass and just a few thistle and still some other small weeds. I am calling that patch quite a major success, though atleast one neighbor does not believe it was my doing. Oh well.
My first summer here, I triedto start a garden patch where there seemed to have been one before. I rented a tiller and nearly destroyed it due to all the rocks in the 'soil'. Had to take it back without finishing due to the time it took to pick out all the rocks (some were larger than my fist and I ain't tiny). I started turning dirt with a shovel and found that that 'garden spot' was actually just very poor soil on top of the 'landfill' the builders of this house had created. ARG! I dug out as much as I could and left the wood scraps. Probably still has some nasty stuff down there, but managed over a foot of sort-of-clean soil on top. I've had decent crops of beans, peas and potatoes and squash, but still fighting to get all I'd like out of that space. This year, feeling really old and lazy, I' not even trying to get rid of all the grass that has moved in. I'm using a screwdriver to poke holes for seeds (squash and potatoes and beans). I will keep chopping and dropping the grass around the seeds, but hope that shade and wind protection will actually help. We'll see.
A couple of years ago, I bought some bare root pea shrub, plums, Nanking cherry, and lilacs(to shield the view from the street) from the county extension office. I did as told and watered them regularly and kept the area weed free (though I used chop & drop rather than weed killers). They didn't die over the winter, but I watered them considerably less the next summer (rough work year). They didn't die but they didn't thrive either. This year, I watered them each once deeply. Then I piled up some rabbit ppop around each and haven't watered since it's been pretty wet this spring (for Wyoming). They are all doing wonderful! Every one of them has new growth and even blooms!
Ahrg,gotta figure out how to turn off auto correct!
One more: there is an apple tree at the back edge of my lot. No idea what kind because the deer eat all the blossoms so never had an apple yet. A few weeks ago, I was cutting out some wild rose that would love to take over my whole yard and started to wonder if deer hooves could handle thorns. I stacked the thorny cuttings loosely around that apple tree and now have blossoms - lots and lots of blossoms! Now I'm going to widen the circle of thorns in hopes of actually figuring out what is out there. And I'm so excited!
What I'm trying to say in not so few words is "don't give up! Give it some more time". For your health and the health ofthe planet.
Use whatever you need to inorder to get some food, but keep at the food forest. It will eventually pay off.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9407
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Personally, I am growing a vegetable garden (kitchen garden) for annual vegetables in a separate place from my food forest. I think it would be very difficult to have them in the same place because of different soil and maintenance requirements for annuals versus perennials and trees. So if I were you I would set an area aside for a "regular garden" (still using permacultural concepts) and keep working on the food forest in another area.

Most permaculture designs I've seen include an area for annual vegetables, usually very close to the house, where most of the actual food comes from at least in the first years (5-10 years for food forest development).
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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