• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Land for forest garden  RSS feed

 
Ionel Catanescu
Posts: 164
Location: Timisoara, Romania, 45N, 21E, Z6-7
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi everyone

My name is Ionel, i live in Romania 45deg North, zone6.

I'm a big fan of trees, fruiting or otherwise.
The family and i decided we want a piece of rural land for a forest garden.
Well, we actually want to grow just about anything useful. If we can grow it, we want it.
But the emphasis is on edible forest gardens.
The cutting down of forests is high these days and we want to give something back to the land and ourselves.

And now the problem:
The area has plenty of creek/rivers that like to flood at least once a year without major destruction but every once in a while they wreak havok.
Most of the land suffers from this by increased water tables tho ...
Regularly it's somewhere lower than 2m or 4m.
But during heavy autumn/winter/spring rains and/or snow melt it raises to 0.5m or less ...
The area is mostly flatland, some hillside.

I know most fruit trees don't like their feet wet and i cant use waterloving ones to evapotranspirate because the dormancy period...
Aside good drainage (if it actually solving the problem) is there anything else that can be done on this land or should i make the extra effort and find a piece of land not having these issues ?

Any advice/info is welcomed.
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi neighbour,

I'm from Croatia, have small land here in the mountains, quite similar to Holzer's property, but much smaller. I decided for forrest garden, starting this year. Studied a lot what is possible for me to grow here, and what is not, and in most cases for plants the poor drainage was big problem, frost pockets also, high alkalinity of soil also. Not saying that I have this problems, only frosts could be the problems for me.

If I could imagine perfect ground for forest garden, it would be south facing side of a hill, longer axis would be east-west, far away from any industry, farms, and not to high altitude. Everything else could and should be turn into benefit.
 
Ionel Catanescu
Posts: 164
Location: Timisoara, Romania, 45N, 21E, Z6-7
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you Drug Mile

The area has rather good soil, good south orientation, there are places distant enough from industry/farms, and altitude is between 80 and 200m. The only problem might be the wetness.
Do you have any info on how can i turn this high water table to my advantage ?

Good luck with your forest garden.
 
maikeru sumi-e
Posts: 313
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Raised beds might help a lot with drainage. You may want to check out the hugelkultur thread and see if some variations may help you.
 
Ionel Catanescu
Posts: 164
Location: Timisoara, Romania, 45N, 21E, Z6-7
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm reading the thread right now.

How can raised beds help with trees ?
Many have roots going at least 2m (7ft) deep...
And how practical would be to use raised beds for 8+ha (20+acres) ?
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ionel wrote:
Do you have any info on how can i turn this high water table to my advantage ?


I'm just started with my garden so I can't say from my experience, but I doubt that water at levels of 1-2 m below surface seems to be the problem. Problem is surface or near surface water. This can be regulated by digging ditches all across the garden and taking excess water away.

That is exactly what I'm planing to do, dig a deep ditches and a pond at lower part of garden. In forest garden one of major problems are slugs due to high humidity and malched ground, and one of best solutions is to have frogs. Frogs need a pond. Near pond I can grow reed and use it for malching material. That way I hope to turn high water level to my benefit.
 
Ionel Catanescu
Posts: 164
Location: Timisoara, Romania, 45N, 21E, Z6-7
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Drug Mile,

During summer water table is not an issue (below 2m).
During early spring when everything is still dormant the water table is higher than 0.5m or at the surface.
The land is flat with very little slope. All the area as far as the naked eye can see is high water table.
If i dig a pond it will be full to the brim with water because water is allready everywhere ... or will it ?

If i wanted just vegetables then i wouldn't be having any issues because during january-march i could use raised beds without a problem and also ditches would help a little.
However for trees i can't drain below 2m can i?
And i can't keep their feet wet for 2-3 months (sometimes water tables goes down only in may ...)

If i dig wide and deep ditches, 4m wide x 2m deep then maybe i might stand a chance. I don't know ...
Anyone has any experience with this sort of thing ?
I'm planning to do this on something like 5-10ha so no small backyard garden.

Regarding slugs, ducks consider them a delicacy (maybe geese too). And they also like ponds. So if you raise ducks and also have frogs then you are double covered.
 
                          
Posts: 1
Location: United States
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ionel,
If you want to grow trees , you better do a bit homework on it, I mean to say, why dont you gather some information about what are you going to harvest.
 
Ionel Catanescu
Posts: 164
Location: Timisoara, Romania, 45N, 21E, Z6-7
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brandon,

Fruiting trees from the top of my head:
Apples
Pears
Peaches
Apricots
Plums
Cherry trees
Chestnuts and other nuts
Persimmon
Paw Paw
Mulberry
Quince
...

Nonfruiting trees:
Mixed ones for shade, nitrogen fixing, wood, appearance, etc.

These last ones have no problem with the water table.
However for the first group my information says water table at highest 2m deep or they won't like it ...
There is little in depth research as to each of these root system habit (how many researchers dig up whole mature trees with their roots intact?).
Traditional wisdom was that the root system is in the first 1m of soil, however, research has shown that roots going deeper than this (usually not lower than 2m) are not uncommon.
For example apples have a large root system that grows cca. 60% in the first meter, 35% to 2m and the rest deeper. These are not hard numbers but you can make a picture from them.

So i have info about max depth.
The available land mostly does not fulfill this necessity ...
That's why i am asking if anything can be done.
If not, or too expensive, then i will look further for suitable land.
 
maikeru sumi-e
Posts: 313
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ionel wrote:
I'm reading the thread right now.

How can raised beds help with trees ?
Many have roots going at least 2m (7ft) deep...
And how practical would be to use raised beds for 8+ha (20+acres) ?


Raised beds across 20 acres would be more difficult and a lot of work, probably requiring machines to dig and shape the land. I think on a few acres is doable with enough time and energy.

However, I'm in a very different situation. I suffer from too little water, too much heat in summer, too much cold in winter here in the desert. I want to work a few acres of former, unirrigated orchard this summer, and I have to work with very different plants and trees than you would...

Land that floods can have very high fertility from what the waters bring in and the organic matter developed or left behind. Something like ditches or small holding ponds may be useful to divert and channel the water and nutrients where you want them to go. But you'll want to put important things like house, buildings, etc. on higher ground if possible and out of danger. My area is not in danger of flooding unless we have severe thunderstorms, which can lead to flash flooding on occasion.

I think it is important to work with the land and see what it wants to be.
 
Milan Broz
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ionel wrote:

The land is flat with very little slope. All the area as far as the naked eye can see is high water table.


I see, that's why I wrote that for me best place would be south facing hill side. You plan to use quite a big place, so hand digging is not an option .

When you dig a ditches or swales, you get a lot of soil. You would probably use it to create a raised beds, or small raised islands. You would need a heavy machines for this work, like sepp holzer does, but after work is done you have small hills 2-3 meters above drain ditches or slopes. Then you can grow whatever you want, hills (or raised beds) would be easier to heat up in spring time, would never be too wet, and swales would always be humid and protected from wind. Then you can select water loving plants for swales, and regular fruit and sun loving plants for hills.

If minimum hard work is required and you don't want to use heavy machines, you still can pick water loving plants for your site. There are some trees listed as a not good for forest garden becouse it takes all water, like willow, so maybe using such a trees can dry the soil a little bit. But all trees take much water from the ground and accumulate it in it's bodies, they are a sort of humidity regulators, so maybe bare soil that has problem with water might be dried out by planting trees.
 
Ionel Catanescu
Posts: 164
Location: Timisoara, Romania, 45N, 21E, Z6-7
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you all for your replies

Maikeru,

Heavy machinery will be used however i would prefer to use them for X amount of work rather than 10-20X the work.
The less, the better.
I do have some sort of vision regarding zoning of the land but it's general until i have the land in my hands.
Time i have some, resources so-so and love there is  .

I visited some weeks back a piece of property on a floodplain. Last flood was in 2005 and covered the land with a top layer of pure yellowish/brown mud, maybe 20cm deep in some places, water ponding on the surface in lots of places ... big ditches on 2 sides of the property ... hardly anything but some small grass growing in pockets ... so at least at this site fertility was low.
People gave up cultivating the land because it was not worth it ...
The local shepherd was happy, lots of pasture.
This land did not have a high water table ... instead it had flooding ... people avacuating kind ...


Drug Mile,

I envisioned a situation in which trees would use a lot of water during summer and so would lower the water table. And when spring comes, it would not rise that much because it was lower in the first place.
And on top of that you have raised your topsoil some with the soil from the ditches/swales (if you don't have heavy clay).
But a tree can use only so much water and the water table spans large distances ...
I can't use all that water with my tiny forested piece of land, can i ?
Most of the land is used for agriculture so there is very little vegetation to take the water out of the soil.

If there is a definite way to solve this problem and the effort to do so is reasonable then i just might take this route. But if it's not, then i'll just pack my bags and search for a more suitable piece of land.

PS
Here is a piece of real info about an apple's tree root system (something similar to the native apple trees from around here):
http://www.gardenexpress.com.au/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=16713
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
if you  have some equipment to put in some drainage trenches or french drains and then to raise some areas up on either side..you might be able to dry the soil out in those areas enough to plant some fruit trees, esp dwarf fruit trees which have more shallow root systems.

our property  has a very very high water table..we dug a pond in the lowest area with a drain away to a swampy area to our north..which drained a large area of the property, leaving some wetlands beyond the pond, and we are able to grow a lot of fruit trees..see my blog in the signature section
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
287
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The link you provided for the apple tree roots is interesting, but reading the text explains a lot.  The pictures show sparse roots below the 1 metre level, and barely any beyond the 2M level.  The text states that the orchard is not irrigated, which would explain why the root system sent out feeders deep...to seek needed water.  If the orchard had been irrigated in the summer months, there probably would have been no roots even at the 2m level.  If ample water is provided, the plant will not 'go hunting'.  Once the roots find sustainable water they have no reason to keep looking.  They will not venture into a soil that will kill their tree.

As a possible solution to your water problem, consider dwarf, or semi-dwarf trees.
A side benefit is that you will not need ladders to harvest.

Noroc

 
Matthew Fallon
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
how cool to hear people wanting to do permaculture in Romania.
in care parte esti in tara? am stat aproximativ un ani in cluj. roamed all over the place while there though. ah those were fun times...

it'd be a ton of work, would it be feasible to build up swales  to plant out with trees..somewhat similar to what geoff lawton did in 'greening the desert' video project?
i guess this is the same idea above witht he french drains basically....

Mattei'
 
Ionel Catanescu
Posts: 164
Location: Timisoara, Romania, 45N, 21E, Z6-7
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brenda Groth,

The land might not have a slope or at most some areas lower by max 0.5m than the rest.
I could just dig some big holes to artificially create a lowland but won't these fill up by the existing water table ?
I do want and plan at least a pond/lake so it woul have multiple functions.

RustysDog,

Yes, the text says it all. I don't want to irrigate my trees at least not conventionally.
I'm would consider a swale system like this one:
http://permaculture.org.au/2010/12/15/a-guide-to-back-flood-swales/
Option 3

However, the moisture might be high enough in the soil anyway to make it unneeded.
I don't know, it wil depend on the exact topography and soil structure and water table dynamics.
Regarding dwarf or semi-dwarf trees i don't know ... i do literally want co cultivate EVERYTHING (yeah, i'm insane, never mind me) so i'm not sure i'll be able to get everything in this size but it's something worth considering. The major setback might be the lower lifetime (many have 10-15 years of life).

Tribalwind,

Matei, this is where i'm making a living:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Timisoara,+Timis,+Romania&aq=0&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=52.152749,114.169922&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Timisoara,+Timis,+Romania&ll=45.75411,21.095123&spn=0.362677,1.153564&t=h&z=11

Regarding swales, see above.
Regarding tons of work ... well, yeah. But i kinda like it. The kids will get to participate in history making and you can't beat that.
Besides, if you get it right (and i must) then you'll have a lifetime of fulfillment and enjoyment.

Godspeed culturing.
 
                    
Posts: 11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hi ionel,
why not creating a system of fish/crab production and a raised fruit forest on top of the pond excavation

ys
auer
 
Ionel Catanescu
Posts: 164
Location: Timisoara, Romania, 45N, 21E, Z6-7
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Auer,

If the soil from the excavation has little topsoil (the rest may be 90%+ clay) it might not matter ...
Regarding fish/crab there is such a plan, however it will be late in the succession.
For the first years i won't live on the property so no animals until i change that.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
yes it will fill up with ground water, ours does, but the ground water is higher in the spring and much lower in July and August...but the water still drains to that area..rather than just sit all over..which also makes a water habitat
 
permaculture is a more symbiotic relationship with nature so I can be even lazier. Read tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - boots-to-roots
https://permies.com/t/59706/permaculture-bootcamp-boots-roots
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!