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Monthly Food Forest Tours! Let's create a food forest together!

 
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
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This video is part 2 of the weekly food forest tour for 4/19/20.



Sometimes deer get to blueberries. They got to a younger one that I should have left the fence around  for one more year. It is recovering very well though and has some new shoots already growing that look really healthy.

The blueberries are getting really big really fast this year!

Sometimes the blueberries produce a lot of berries and not a lot of growth, or a lot of growth and not very many berries, or sometimes they will produce about an average amount of each. They can rotate between these cycles due to many reasons, but seem to even out to average out eventually as they get older and healthier.

I think it's safe to say that the mulberry grafts didn't make it. I think that if I graft them again I will use a different type of graft along with the stone fruits, like cherries, plums, and peaches, since my cherry and plum grafts didn't make it either. I used a whip and tongue for the apples and pears, which did amazing, but may do a chip and bud or a shield graft for the stone fruits going forward. For mulberries, I may just try to root the cuttings in the future.

The apple rootstock is really starting to grow fast. Most of them are sending up about 5 shoots, some more and some less. It's neat seeing the differences in each one, and they each look a little different since they are seedling rootstock and are all genetically different.

The peach trees from seed are in general about 8 inches tall, with some about 12 inches tall.

Even though a lot of the pomegranates died back close to the roots, once they get going, they are quickly catching up to where they were at the end of the year last year. In two weeks, the first one has already almost caught up to where it was last year, and the ones starting to grow are also doing the same.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
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This video is part 3 of the weekly food forest tour for 4/19/20.



The plum curculio are starting to chow down on the peaches this year. Hopefully the diversity of plants growing around it will help encourage some predators to show up and help reduce the pest population.

I might try growing Thai basil around a lot of my fruit trees soon. I've been growing it in my main garden area, and it is super fragrant. Even after being dead all winter I can still smell it on the dead pieces of the plant. I think it could be very valuable in repelling pests on fruit trees.

The first peach tree seemed to have a stronger peachy smell to it that looks like it may contribute to pests being attracted to it.

The seedling peach tree is growing well, with some new branches with about 18 inches of new growth so far this year!

The first cherry has a branch that looks dead at first, but it seems like it is just really late budding out.

It looks like quite a few cherries are forming on both larger cherry trees, YAY!!!

I have a mutant cherry! It has two cherries growing from one stem.

I really would love to taste some cherries off these trees this year, so I may protect them with some small zip lock bags. I tried fruit growing bags last year, but the animals just chewed right through them about 95% or more of the time.

I've also got some mulberries planted that will also hopefully help distract the critters away from my other fruit trees. I'd really like to get a lot more of them planted very soon!

Baby paw paws look like tiny bananas! I had clusters of them from 1 to 8 depending on the fruit set. Hopefully we'll have some paw paws later this year!
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
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This video is part 4 of the weekly food forest tour for 4/19/20.



About 5 years ago, I planted what I thought was a table grape beside a tree on the forest's edge. At the time I was growing all of my grapes on trellises, and I had run out of room, so I planted it there. A privet bush has grown up with the grape and the grape has grown up with it as a natural trellis. It has quite a few grape clusters this year.

It is very interesting though, and looks like it may actually be a hybrid of a table grape and a muscadine or maybe some other type of grape. It looks like a table grape and tastes pretty good, but the skin is not really edible. It is thin but so tough that I couldn't chew it up at all, and you just have to spit it out. Hopefully I'll have a few more to taste test later this year!

The cool weather crops of lettuce, peas, and beets are looking great! I haven't done anything to them at all and plan to do nothing else to them but pick them and eat the weakest plants!

I've planted some of the summer crop seed, cucumbers, beans, and squash, onto the ridges in between the fruit trees. I planted a ton of seed in probably an hour. All I did was scatter the seed in the desired locations, nothing else. I didn't even pack it down, water it, or bury any of it. If I would have planted this seed using traditional methods, it would have taken me probably ten times as long or more. This is probably the only time that I will spend on these plants the whole year, besides maybe a little chop and drop of some of the wild plants near them, but maybe not even that at all in some places, and all I will have to do is harvest the crops later!

I have a ton of aphids on one of the new shoots of an apple tree, and I'm going to do absolutely nothing about it. That's right, absolutely nothing. By coincidence, there was a lady bug on one of the other shoots beside it that had a lot of aphids, and the ladybug was probably eating its lunch, and maybe laying some eggs if it is a female, and even if it isn't, a female will probably be stopping by to lay some eggs there. The ladybug larva, as I saw on one of my other trees, are voracious aphid eaters, and can eat tons of them. The polyculture and diversity of plants nearby support ladybugs and hopefully lots of other predators, which if given the time and not sprayed with stuff (even some organic sprays will kill beneficial insects), they will naturally balance out the pest population.

On the mounds and ridges where the seeds are planted, I've found it beneficial for the soil to be rough and uneven, having lots of texture and bumps and ridges in it. By having it like that, when the seeds are planted onto it, they don't just run off, but instead they get caught in the little valleys and hills, and probably get more water where they get stuck at, which probably helps germination. On some of the fruit tree mounds, I had previously packed the soil closest to the trunk of the fruit trees so it wouldn't wash away since nothing was planted on it at the time, and now not a lot of the seed I recently planted has germinated there, but instead washed down into the areas of rougher soil and germinated there. I do have some seed that germinated on the packed soil, but generally not nearly as much as on the rougher soil.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
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This video is part 5 of the weekly food forest tour for 4/19/20.



The summer crops, cucumbers, beans, and squash, are starting to germinate and put down their roots.

A lot of the planted seeds have died, but this is a good thing. The survivors will be selected naturally to survive better with being planted by scattering the seed naturally, and will germinate better.

We've had a good rain recently, and all of the pools are filled up to their maximum for the first time. They look like they will hold the water really well.

Most of the smaller trees have been girdled completely below the soil level to help encourage the tree to send out its roots from the main variety and get rid of the rootstock. Due to this, I'm predicting that they may grow a little bit, then pause, and then start growing really fast later this growing season.

The big pear tree has been hit really bad by fireblight, killing almost all of the pear blossoms. It is a very susceptible variety to fireblight. I plan to mound up around this tree soon and grow lots of living mulches around it to help make it healthier overall and hopefully more resistant to fireblight in the future. I'll probably give it two more years to produce a good crop, and if it doesn't I'll just cut it down.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
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This video is part 1 of the weekly food forest tour for 4/26/20.



The grafted pear and apple trees are continuing to do well.

I've marked the graft unions with a zip tie so that I can tell where the grafted variety starts, so that I'll know that everything that puts out roots above it will be from the grafted variety and on its own roots. Some grafted trees have two or more shoots growing from them, so hopefully if each shoot roots, one grafted tree can turn into two or more own root fruit trees.

The apple rootstock seems really vigorous and is continuing to send up shoots, that I've removed, so that it will focus growth on the main variety.

The grape vines look like they are developing a lot of healthy big grape clusters! Some even have 3 large clusters on each shoot, and some even have a half cluster of grapes coming off from the main cluster.

I love all of the wildflowers I'm finding in the food forest. Carolina geranium has such pretty small flowers!

I wish I hadn't cut off all of the grape vines' side shoots for two reasons.First I think the plant would have been healthier just letting them grow, and I could have removed them later and used the cuttings to create new vines. Also I would like to turn the area with the grape vines into a food forest soon, and I'd like them to have a naturally bushy shape with new vines coming off the main vine all along it.

The 1st muscadine has a ton of grapes forming this year! They haven't been pruned in a year and are looking even healthier and stronger as a  result. They were just barely pruned last year and had big tasty grapes with no problems ripening them. They have even more grapes this year, and I expect them to have no problem ripening them this year either.

The 2nd muscadine doesn't look like it is going to produce many muscadines this year either, so this will probably be the last year I grow it.
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
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This video is part 2 of the weekly food forest tour for 4/26/20.



A few of the figs have some good growth, with one about 8 inches tall and another one about 6 inches tall.

The seedling apple rootstock are growing super well with an average of five shoots per plant. I'll probably be adding some dirt around them soon to create the stool layers so each shoot will hopefully produce its own roots.

The seedling peach tree growing in the apple rootstock bed is growing crazy well! It could be an indication of a good possible guild with apples and peaches. The peach could grow fast and produce fruit pretty quickly while waiting for the apple tree to get established and produce fruit later.

This bed was the one from the previous video of the Free Raised Beds, and the method using the leaf mulch seemed to help create a really great growing bed with super healthy soil that is giving these young trees a really great start!
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
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This video is part 3 of the weekly food forest tour for 4/26/20.



At the moment, the damage from the plum curculio isn't that bad on some of the peaches. It seems like the peaches surrounded by denser canopy growth are more protected and have less damage than the ones growing more out in the open.

Speaking of plum curculio, I found one caught in the act on one of my peaches. They play dead when startled, and after a little while he started crawling around again.

The cherries and paw paw dropped their young fruit this first year of cropping. This can be common for a fruit tree to to do its first year, and the trees may be putting some more good growth on this year to support a good first crop next year. We also had some really high winds, so that may have contributed to the fruit falling off. The trees look like they are really putting on some good new growth and will be ready to produce a good crop next year!

A damselfly is fluttering around the food forest. I love how they fly, in such a light and graceful way. Hopefully they will be chowing down on some of the pest insects, and maybe they'll snack on a few plum curculio!
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
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This video is part 4 of the weekly food forest tour for 4/26/20.



Rocks can be challenging to dig through. I feel for those of you with very rocky soil.

Some of the apples trees are starting to grow fast, with some growing over a foot.

The pools function as both a benefit in helping the nearby soil drain out a little better near the very top of the soil, but they also store great amounts of water that keep the nearby soil moist and give the plants access to water down deep. They probably are encouraging the plants to send down deeper roots also.

The large pear tree has a pretty much total loss of its crop due to fireblight. I may try to mound up around it and give it some well draining soil to help for next year. If that doesn't help significantly, I'll probably cut it down and replace it with something resistant to fireblight.

A damselfly comes in for a closeup.
 
pollinator
Posts: 158
Location: Providence, RI, USA
78
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Steve Thorn wrote:
Even though a lot of the pomegranates died back close to the roots, once they get going, they are quickly catching up to where they were at the end of the year last year. In two weeks, the first one has already almost caught up to where it was last year, and the ones starting to grow are also doing the same.



Crud! I thought I lost one of my poms, because it wasn't putting on leaves, but maybe it will come back from roots. I yanked out the bush in despair, but did have the presence of mind to cut it back and pot it up just in case it had some life left in it. What are the odds, do you think?

I should always remember Bill Mollison's words "If you don't know what to do, don't do anything!"

Have a great season!
 
Steve Thorn
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
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Hey Karl,

I think there's a pretty good chance it could come back.

Do you know what variety of pomegranate it is supposed to be?

That's a good quote by Bill, so true.
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