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Moved to zone 7b, need help getting started  RSS feed

 
Kim Taylor
Posts: 2
forest garden trees
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I just moved to northern Georgia, and want to get started on a forest garden. The previous owner turned a large portion of the back yard into a landscaped area, with evergreen trees, blueberry bushes, holly bushes, and some bushes I don't recognize. I'd like to keep the blueberry bushes, remove the holly, and replace with edible plants. The area is on a west-facing hill. Unfortunately, we live in a community with an HOA, so removing the large evergreens may require approval, I have license to remove/replace anything else I like, as long as the area keeps its current footprint. So my questions are:

1) What are these plants (see photos)?
2) What should my first step be in establishing a forest garden?
3) What would you recommend for my area? (Persimmon and Elderberry top my wish list)
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b) Roses? Any reason to keep them?
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c) Is this a variety of holly?
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d) a different holly variety?
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e)?
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f)?
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g)?
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h)?
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i) blueberry?
 
Wj Carroll
Posts: 93
Location: near Athens, GA
7
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As best I can tell, I see a rose, a holly and a gardenia.  There is a great book specifically for zone 7b and 8 in Georgia.  I just got a copy and am really enjoying it: This Listing is fir the book titled  A Georgia Food Forest 180 perennial edible plants and a Design Guide for the Zone 8  (most of GA and parts of VA, NC, SC, AL, MS, LA, and TX) Home Grower by Cynthia Dill.  It was published I 2012.  If you can't find it online or in a book store, let me know - there is an address in the book for ordering copies directly.  The author's farm is in Garfield, GA, just south of Augusta.  Also, check with UGA and Clemson - very helpful folks  Clemson has a big sustainable ag project with great gardens.
 
Kim Taylor
Posts: 2
forest garden trees
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Wj Carroll wrote:As best I can tell, I see a rose, a holly and a gardenia.


I will be in heaven if there are gardenias out there. I say edible, but I will make an exception for gardenias. Thanks for the book recommendation - I will definitely look into it!
 
Wj Carroll
Posts: 93
Location: near Athens, GA
7
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Gardenia grow very well in GA.  I have propagated many by just breaking off stems and sticking straight into the ground.  another good flowering bush for that climate is Camellia.  Camellia flowers are also edible and you can make wine from them.  The older roses, like tea roses are great for food, jelly and wine, as well.  Modern roses have a tough time in the southern humidity.  Keep an eye out for old rose varieties growing in old cemeteries.
 
Michelle Bisson
Posts: 225
Location: Quebec, Canada
17
forest garden hugelkultur trees urban
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Roses:

You can dry the rosehips to make rosehip tea.  Plus, you get beautiful rose flowers to enjoy the beauty.
 
Clinton Hitch
Posts: 5
dog trees woodworking
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I have lived in GA zone 7 for a few years now, what you have in your photos look like a lot of the same stuff that was on my land when we first moved in.

e. Looks like Japanese honeysuckle--invasive, aggressive groundcover--not too bad until it is allowed to strangle trees. I've found stout black walnuts nearly girdled to death by these vines so just be ware of that.

f. Is probably autumn olive/silverberry.

i. Is clearly some kind of low berry bush.

Our first big step in creating the food forest here was planting 250+ bare root seedlings, mostly from Tennessee Dept. of Agriculture: East Tennessee Nursery. I drove to Delano, TN and picked them up in person to save on the shipping (it's not too far over the border). We did 100 persimmon, 100 locust, 25 hazelnut and 25 elderberry from them that first winter and it turned out to be a great deal--all growing well now two years on.

Another bulk nursery over in Chatsworth, GA is Native Forest Nursery. They will ship or let you pick up the seedlings (bare root bundles or air-prune containers) and I've had good experiences there.

Many states around the country operate public seedling nurseries that will sell trees online for often very cheap. Look up "missouri seedlings" "virginia seedlings" "north carolina seedlings" etc. and you'll pull up the state nursery site pretty quick.

My other recommendation is to let the land grow wild for at least one winter (don't mow or bush hog) and see what kind of native trees come up. Oaks, burch and pine of course but on our land we were surprised to see dozens of mature persimmon and sourwood spring up from long dormant root systems.

The other vital thing to get started: Make or buy a cheap A-frame level and start laying out contour swales. Very important in the mountains and I can tell you it really saved my land, just installing a dozen long, shovel-deep swales... ON-CONTOUR!
 
Clinton Hitch
Posts: 5
dog trees woodworking
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My top native tree/shrub recommendations?

1. American Chestnut. Find a source for seedlings of blight-resistant parents (they exist) or plant hybrids--it don't matter.

2.American Persimmon. These are probably on your land already!

3. Pawpaw. Must grow in shade for first 2 years.

4. Elderberry. Plant in a most, shadier area.

5. Black Walnuts and Sumac. These are considered weeds by most around here, both are useful to humans and wildlife and should be managed and prized as much as the wild oaks, hickory, sourwood and birch that you'll probably find on your land with them.

6. Muscadines! Already on your land....
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1441
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
22
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I would first make a list of things that you want to eat or use (food and medicine).  Then figure out how many of those things will fit in your space.

For example, in my yard a fig tree will take up too much space for the amount of figs that I might eat.  I am the only person in the house that will eat figs so I will not plant a fig.  Instead I will plant more apples and citrus.  My husband and I will both eat apples and citrus and both of those trees - depending on type - will take up less space than the fig.

I have found that there are many things that grow well but I end up not actually using so there is no point in allowing them to take up my limited space and resources.

 
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