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Using existing forest in Permaculture Design

 
                                      
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Just about everything I've read, both here and all the books, having to do with food forest involves planting the forest and planning for time.  The trees will grow up and you'll have your food forest.

My place is a little different.  I already have the mature trees.  Has anybody on around the forums actually worked with Farmer Trees?  I've set several up, trimmed up fifteen feet and opened up the centers.  I've opened up the forest so that I don't have a complete canopy and so that the trees have full southern edge with lots of light and dappled light on the northern edge.

I would like to discuss succession with mature trees providing the overstory layer.
 
Brenda Groth
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I'm not sure what you are referring to as Farmer Trees.

We have a small forest on our property that I'm developing, although slowly, into a permaculture garden, adding edibles and non edibles and harvesting some of the existing "weedy" trees out of it.

I'm learning more and more on this forum about how to use the existing trees that are dead or dying, although I do leave some for the wildlife i have a lot that are harvestable..

we are also allowing the hardwoods to take over large areas of our forest that was basically all softwoods to this point (aspen, alder, wild cherry originally now ash, maple, oak, moving in.)

there are a few areas of mushrooms and wild berries, and i'm cutting trails through the woods and piling soil, compost, wood products, etc in areas to make planting areas as well.

you can see my blog and go to some of the pages regarding trails by clicking on below by my name.
 
Kirk Hutchison
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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What sort of trees?
 
Irene Kightley
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That's exactly what we do too Brenda.

In some parts of our woods the sweet Chestnuts have canker and are dying so we cut them down and replace them with other things.











 
Tyler Ludens
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Irene, do you not have deer or is all that fenced?

Looks beautiful! 
 
Irene Kightley
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Thank you.

It's fenced at the back for the pigs who sometimes go in there in a rotation system but there is a way in to this part of the garden from the forest and we do get the odd deer visiting and sometimes our goats escape. 

This is the area between our zone one and two and we pass here several times a day (usually accompanied by our dogs) to open and close the chickens and get food so I guess that also deters them - and the wild boar. 
 
                        
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We have been clearing osage orange ( Known as hedge to locals ) and making posts from those at least 5 inch in diameter. I would like to use the tops, which are tangled and have thorns, to deer proof new fruit trees. Just planting trees among them and piling enough to keep the deer at bay. Has anybody used a system like this and what types of fruit trees can be used most effectively? It will be over a couple of acres and I need trees that will do okay on their own until several feet tall. Location is Illinois. Thanks.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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Brenda Groth wrote:
we are also allowing the hardwoods to take over large areas of our forest that was basically all softwoods to this point (aspen, alder, wild cherry originally now ash, maple, oak, moving in.)


I'm guessing you could graft productive cherry cultivars onto established wild cherry stock and have a nice orchard in a couple of seasons.  Have heard of folks grafting apple to crabapple, so guessing it might work the same. 
 
Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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In native forest different species may have different understory depending when they leaf out and how competitive they are. 

Wood can become fungi
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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i have a lot of wild cherry and have a canadian red leaf cherry that are not cherry fruit producers..really...however..i have 2 sweet cherries and 2 sour cherries also..

they are babies so they don't have any "grafting" material yet from them, but I like the idea of trying to graft them to the wild ones in the woods..so that is a thought for me for the FUTURE.

also i hear that you can graft other species..such as you can go between hawthorne and pear, apple and crabapple, goumi and other similar such as russian and autumn olives, etc.

I also found out that the recommendations for not growing black raspberries near other raspberries has now been ammended and they say there is no problem in doing so now..nice to know..as that makes it easier to put in a nice raspberry garden..they used to recommend hundereds of feet between them.
 
Jordan Lowery
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i couldn't grow some of the crops i grow in the forest garden if it weren't for those trees that were already established( mostly oaks) as they provide much needed shade for the blueberries and other shade needing crops while the fruit/nut/useful trees grow taller and establish a canopy. eventually they might get cut down and replaced but for now they serve a great use with very little care. and i get acorns too.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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You might look into a "scion exchange" event: IIRC, growers offer scion for free. It seems like you have the best imaginable rootstock: fully mature, fully adapted, in just that niche/microclimate that the genus in question would prefer.

sepp holzer seems to do a lot of work turning densely-planted woods into more-diverse, food-producing ecosystems. I think his book might be out in English already.
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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anyone know if the book is out in english where a source would be for it please?
 
Kahty Chen
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Location: Southern Oregon
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You mean this book?

Sepp Holzer's Permaculture
A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening
http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/sepp_holzers_permaculture/
 
              
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Location: swampland virginia
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It is available for pre-order.
amazon says March 24, 2011 ($22)
chelsea green site says March 15, 2011 ($35)
 
Elisabeth Tea
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I must confess that I'm really struggling with this. A year ago my husband inherited two small (1/5 acre) properties in an area that's mostly abandoned. Those that have stayed have used the land for either simple living or for camping.

I see a lot of potential in the lots particularly because they are so abandoned. Everything has been left wild for 40 years or more, which means that everything is organic (disclaimer: the federal government has not approved my usage of that word). There is a thriving ecosystem there, with a thick layer of leaf mulch. However, I was hoping to grow food there.

When I first thought of the idea of planting an orchard, my idea was to plant trees that would need to be harvested around the same time so that we would only need to travel there a few times a year. I was quickly assured by people who know better that it wasn't feasible to have an untended orchard since fruit and nut trees need so much work. Then I read Sepp Holstein's Permaculture and gaia's garden, and am now convinced that if I invest time well now it will flourish in 5 years or so.

There are a few things that I'm currently wrestling with. First, I hate to cut down such beautiful trees, even to replace it with trees that will provide food for us, our critters, and the wild critters. How do I chose which trees to keep and which trees should go?

Second, I feel the pressure of time since it will be five years to harvest and my eldest will be out the door in only six years. I feel like we can't invest the time to observe every particular for a year, first because if I'm burning gasoline to drive there I want it to be spent actually tending plants instead of just sitting around and watching them (although I know that's a foundational tenet of permaculture design).

Finally, since I know nothing of grafting trees, I feel like the trees that are commercially available may not even be up to the task of surviving in an untended forest garden. Where can I find fruit trees that are grafted to wild stock or left with the grafting trees branches untrimmed? Or am I being too picky? Have enough people had success with commercially available trees that it doesn't matter?
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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Elis, I am 62 this next summer and I am still planting more and more fruit trees (and my son has no children so grandchildren aren't in the picture).

I am just now starting to get some fruit from some of my newly planted food forest trees, (lost my food forest in a fire in 2001)..and am thrilled to even have a nut crop off my hazelnuts this year.

I use aspens and alders as a nurse tree or stumps and logs and brush to nurse small trees into growing and not being eaten...and I also use remnants of fencing and other things to keep rabbits and mice off the baby trees.

look at the food you buy and try to plant what you like and purchase the most..I'm a huge apple and pear and cherry eater so those were high on my list but I also have lots of other fruit and nut trees and bushes and vines.

(see my blog)

in all established forests you'll have trees that die, fall over or break in wind, etc..that is where you first want to establish your new fruit trees..or watch in the summer if there are areas of sunshine..clearings or patches of sunshine in the forest where there would be enough sun for a baby tree..and plant it there.

when you remove trees look at those that are damaged, dying or aren't valuable..and use them or sell them for firewood or build hugel beds, etc from them.

you can also lay parts of the dead trees and branches on the ground around your baby new trees as food and protection from grazing...esp by the deer.

also if you have extra perennial material from your gardens you can start those things in your woods as well ..I have moved an over abundance of Jerusalem Artichokes I had into the woods as I found that the wildlife loved to eat them..and have them growing all over my woods and fields now..i take cuttings of other things and push them in the soil in the woods as well and toss out seeds etc..

i did have wildlife totally eat the hostas i put along my path..so that wasn't the best use of those..

we had an open field on our property that was studded with a few alders and a variety of evergreeens years ago, we have allowed those to seed and have thrown in seeds and berries and nuts of other trees and we are now getting quite a forest growing in that open field (about 6 acres) and it is filling in really really nicely..there will be an abundance of fruit there also as I have buried rotting pears, apples, plums, cherries, and all kinds of wild berries etc..along my trails in that previously open field as well..
 
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