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Project: Intense Food Forest in the Mediterranean Coast of Valencia, Spain. Land rehabilitation

 
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Posts: 463
Location: Málaga, Spain
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- Vegetable beds, I am changing my approach, maybe you can give me ideas. I was planting vegetable beds between tree roows, so I could use all the available space. But I had in mind the idea of selling it to the local market, so I made big beds with different consortiums (10m x 0.8, so 80 square meters). But covid restrictions (heavy here) are a pain in the ass for my plans. I needed help and people cant travel here, and also some places are closed. I wanted to start a CSA. But now I am tired of all this work alone (I now I can look for volunteers) and thinking that I might change location of the beds and plant only for family consumption for the whole year). I think also that I need to locate mostly perennials in strategic places, and leave some beds for annuals that we love. I should think on how to change this



A garden for your own family consumption, yes, that's a great idea. I would aim for the lowest possible maintenance, so you can keep working on your orchard. A few time/work saving tips:

- Perennials. Anything you can eat without having to replant is a great time saving food. Here I would count artichokes, bay (laurel), berries, moringa, tamarillo, passionflower, etc.
- Volonteers (adventicias). Anything that will grow again even if you try it not to. Well, this is like foraging in the wilderness, except that you are letting these edible weeds inside. I would count dandelions, green asparagus, wild garlic (ajoporro), purslane (verdolaga), acid plant (acedera), nasturtiums (capuchinas), wild fennel, etc. Most of these have been in my lattest salads.
- Self-seeding. Anything that will grow again if you just let some of them grow to seed, with no effort. Garlic, letuces, beets, ..., save a few of them for seeds, leave them where they are until they spread their seeds, then cut them down. The only downside is that growing the same things in the same area for too long will atract pests, but if your beds are diverse enough and include many aromatics, it should be safe.
- Preferably adapted to climate. They don't need to be extemely local (though it's useful), if your climate is mediterranean, a native plant from California will grow equally good.
- You may want to grow just the five or six anual vegetables you usually buy at the fruit store, but it would increase your possibilities if you change your diet to adapt to whatever is growing in your fields. I am now eating a lot of radishes, which I would never bought before in the stores, making salads amd omeletes with the leaves and sauteed grated bulbs for dish garnish. So, why don't you try a similar approach to what you are doing with your orchard, plant a wide variety of crops and see what works well, then learn how to eat them?

- Since you are not an expert, you might want to provide different habitats for your crops: more and less shade, more and less humidity, more and less compacted soils, more and less fertility, ... Some crops will thrive in some of these places, some will not, just plant them all everywhere and see how it goes. I did that and I have learned that you can't plant legumes (leguminosas) if you have fertilized too much with manure, you need to plant potatos first so they reduce the nitrogen amount.
-Mulching and weeding is time consuming, it's easier if you can plant your crops very tightly so they don't let any volonteer grow. This approach requires you to remove some of your plants when they are too close together or else they can't grow big enough, but these discarded ones are plants that you probably can eat even when not ripe.

It's a good thing to prepare seedlings of different weeks so you don't get all your produce at once, but rather you can gather enough for your weekly consumption every week, without the need to preserve your harvest. It's not really time saving, but it will increase the harvesting season so you can keep eating fresh stuff. On the other hand, preserving food is a very good skill to learn, for all the vegetables you are surely going to produce that you won't be able to eat fresh. You can preserve pretty much everything in four or five different ways.

 
Posts: 227
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Abraham Palma wrote:

- Vegetable beds, I am changing my approach, maybe you can give me ideas. I was planting vegetable beds between tree roows, so I could use all the available space. But I had in mind the idea of selling it to the local market, so I made big beds with different consortiums (10m x 0.8, so 80 square meters). But covid restrictions (heavy here) are a pain in the ass for my plans. I needed help and people cant travel here, and also some places are closed. I wanted to start a CSA. But now I am tired of all this work alone (I now I can look for volunteers) and thinking that I might change location of the beds and plant only for family consumption for the whole year). I think also that I need to locate mostly perennials in strategic places, and leave some beds for annuals that we love. I should think on how to change this



A garden for your own family consumption, yes, that's a great idea. I would aim for the lowest possible maintenance, so you can keep working on your orchard. A few time/work saving tips:

- Perennials. Anything you can eat without having to replant is a great time saving food. Here I would count artichokes, bay (laurel), berries, moringa, tamarillo, passionflower, etc.
- Volonteers (adventicias). Anything that will grow again even if you try it not to. Well, this is like foraging in the wilderness, except that you are letting these edible weeds inside. I would count dandelions, green asparagus, wild garlic (ajoporro), purslane (verdolaga), acid plant (acedera), nasturtiums (capuchinas), wild fennel, etc. Most of these have been in my lattest salads.
- Self-seeding. Anything that will grow again if you just let some of them grow to seed, with no effort. Garlic, letuces, beets, ..., save a few of them for seeds, leave them where they are until they spread their seeds, then cut them down. The only downside is that growing the same things in the same area for too long will atract pests, but if your beds are diverse enough and include many aromatics, it should be safe.
- Preferably adapted to climate. They don't need to be extemely local (though it's useful), if your climate is mediterranean, a native plant from California will grow equally good.
- You may want to grow just the five or six anual vegetables you usually buy at the fruit store, but it would increase your possibilities if you change your diet to adapt to whatever is growing in your fields. I am now eating a lot of radishes, which I would never bought before in the stores, making salads amd omeletes with the leaves and sauteed grated bulbs for dish garnish. So, why don't you try a similar approach to what you are doing with your orchard, plant a wide variety of crops and see what works well, then learn how to eat them?

- Since you are not an expert, you might want to provide different habitats for your crops: more and less shade, more and less humidity, more and less compacted soils, more and less fertility, ... Some crops will thrive in some of these places, some will not, just plant them all everywhere and see how it goes. I did that and I have learned that you can't plant legumes (leguminosas) if you have fertilized too much with manure, you need to plant potatos first so they reduce the nitrogen amount.
-Mulching and weeding is time consuming, it's easier if you can plant your crops very tightly so they don't let any volonteer grow. This approach requires you to remove some of your plants when they are too close together or else they can't grow big enough, but these discarded ones are plants that you probably can eat even when not ripe.

It's a good thing to prepare seedlings of different weeks so you don't get all your produce at once, but rather you can gather enough for your weekly consumption every week, without the need to preserve your harvest. It's not really time saving, but it will increase the harvesting season so you can keep eating fresh stuff. On the other hand, preserving food is a very good skill to learn, for all the vegetables you are surely going to produce that you won't be able to eat fresh. You can preserve pretty much everything in four or five different ways.



Abraham, this is pretty good advice, I will start working towards that model. And I totally agree on the “adapting your diet to whatever grows in your land”. I find it fun.

Working with the beds ans the first idea that we had has been (and is) a good training. But since we are limites with the restrictions, vegetables are going to be just for us.

I am going to do most of what you are suggesting. I still have the goal to have most of my family vegetable consumption from this place. But the effort has to be efficient
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 227
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
43
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In 2-3 weeks all the trees will be again with their leaves, so I will take some pictures so you might see how is everything going on.

I checked the more than 500 trees that I planted. As I was afraid, the tropical trees didn't survive the extreme frost that we had. It is very unusual as I said. Well, one Guava Tree made it, so that Guavas might be Champions!!! I will replace them in the next weeks, we are talking only 8 trees. I will add some tropicals to give them more time to adapt in better weather conditions (so they will have spring, summer and fall to adapt to the land). But others, I will add figs and citrus.

I have been learning on the system and I will add 3 more rows in late September. But no more tree planting till then.

Also, one of my more interesting things are all the seed cocktails that I threw here and there. I am having interesting results: almond, apricot (lots of this), peach, quince, loquat, chestnut and walnut are growing. Also different bushes and herbs. I added more to fill in some gaps, but those gaps I don't expect to see anything till Fall.

I made also seed mixes for green manure and green cover. I let everything grow, I need organic stuff. On the last weeks I spent time in "chop and drop" on some of the area. I don't want it to go crazy, but I also want it to go to seed (so next year I will not have to buy more seeds, or not as many).

About vegetables: I am changing focus. Covid restrictions are limiting my chances to move around, so I'm not going to work by now on any CSA type. That means that all the dedication that I had with vegetable beds between rows I am going to simplify it. It was hard work, and lots of vegs that I had to give away or even use it as compost. If conditions change, I might have time to readapt. But, by now, what I'm going to do are two things: one, to strategically place perennial vegetables around, so I will eat them whenever I want. And two, for annuals, I will start to play around with hugelkultur. I would like advice, if anyone knows, on this question: how many hugelkultur beds, and wich size, for covering all the vegetable needs for, let's say, 6 people? I've seen many posts on "how to build one hugelkultur", but not on "how to manage hugelkultur".

I made my first HK and it was not perfect. It was wider than I thought, so less practical, but it was fun to build and my daughters had a great time. Also I played with fire, as I built them on my uncles part of the property! I'm crazy! I love danger! Hehehe

IMG-20210327-WA0005.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG-20210327-WA0005.jpg]
 
Abraham Palma
pollinator
Posts: 463
Location: Málaga, Spain
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Hi, Antonio.
Good to see you are doing well.

About hugels, I'm not convinced that they are good for our climate. I'm trying the buried version of it, as recommended by a turkish fellow who has a climate more like ours. Thing is, those logs need water to decompose, and they will dry if left on the surface, even if you cover them with dirt. No water, no hugel.
I have no water at all, so I am trying a buried hugelkulture, you can see my progress in the thread of   the sunken bed.
Since you have some water and can irrigate when needed, my suggestion is to make a half-buried hugelkulture. Dig a trench on contour of 40-50 cm, place the logs without overlapping, cover with clean dirt, stones removed. Keep putting layers of logs, smaller as you proceed up to ground level, then add clean dirt with some compost until you form a small hill of 30-40 cm tall, not more. When it rains, it will hold running water thanks to being on contour, and it will keep it for longer thanks to having plenty of wood. You plant roots won't be bothered by the logs if they have 40 cm to develop underground, but the soil will keep moist for longer. That's the theory.
Just after you are done building the hugel, irrigate it completely so the logs start decomposing faster. Keep adding organic matter every year on top, as the logs decompose. In ten years there should be no more logs, only decomposed organic matter mixed with your dirt.

If you don't have the patience, or the pruned logs available, you can purchase a load of compost, dig the trench and mix it with your soil. A 15 cm layer of compost is more than enough. It's more expensive but it will be ready from day one.
 
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Posts: 870
Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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Hi Antonio. Great to hear so many of your seeds came up. Everything in leaf already!
Here it’s just starting to bud out.
It must be surprising when you come back from Madrid and find surprises. This grew much more than you thought , that died.
I see my garden every day almost.

Any way, hugelcultures didn’t do it for me i’ve tried burying wood, then covering with a lot of compost. It’s always bone dry in summer. Then i added more wood on top more classical design. Still a dry and bit of my garden. In other places i tried again. No succes.
No doubt i’ve been dumb and done it all wrong. Still i’d like to advice you to take it easy with putting too much effort into making a lot of them. Before you get this one to flourish. I’d love to see your very succesful pictures before and after!
I’ve read other people struggled as well and it had to do with hot climates. The wood just doen’t supercharge full of water so soaks everything up in summer. If it’s hot where i am..Geoff Lawton from greening the desert doesn’t do them either as far as i know.
Saving seeds i love it so much. You have the chance to select for superdrought resistant varieties. Everything that survives the time you’re not there must have a dry resistant genome. The year afyer you can use these seeds and you get a whole garden full of drought resistant seeds.
In theory at least. If it all dies you’re back at square 1.
I don’t have a lot of water in my garden and water only if they look really shitty, so i have selected a little bit for that.
I have a Maroccan lettuce that i save seed from. First year i harvested it too early. The seeds where blanks. Still some must have fallen off in the field because a few randomly popped up. I have taken care of those and have harvested many seeds. This year they came up magnificently and plenty. This year i’ll eat the smaller ones and let all the big ones be. They are the ones best adapted to my soils. I’ll have more seeds to play with end year. Hopefully enough to just throw them around and walk off next year.
They cross as well with the other lettuces so new genetic material comes in making more selection possible.
I’ve got 4 artichoke varieties this year from different sources and i am going to put them together. Next generation will be all mixed. Landracing. Every generation will be better adapted to the shitty soils we have here.
I do the same with red beets, chard, calendula. Every variety seed people give me is valuable.Keep mixing in new varieties.
This year old people gave me well adapted beans
they took with them from Spain when they migrated thirty odd years ago. That’s so fortunate because i always had bad luck with seeds frim the industry.
I am looking forward to spreading these landrace varieties/succesful varieties to other plant enthousiasts.
 
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This looks AMAZING, Antonio...I'm looking forward to seeing all the growth this season. I'm jealous of all of the fruits you are planting. When I lived in CA, we had a lot of oxalis--it grew really well beneath the redwood trees. We had a few redwoods on one end of our property there, and just about the only thing that grew under them was that and shallow-rooted ferns. If you're still growing Sequoia trees, I would keep that in mind--those trees grow feeder roots that form really dense mats at the soil surface. It's almost impossible to dig into them, and if you do, they'll grow back in a matter of months. If you try putting soil on top, they will grow up into that soil. I've seen people successfully pile on mounds of soil and grow Agapanthus, but the raised garden I tried near the redwood got SHUT DOWN by those roots...
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 227
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Abraham Palma wrote:Hi, Antonio.
Good to see you are doing well.

About hugels, I'm not convinced that they are good for our climate. I'm trying the buried version of it, as recommended by a turkish fellow who has a climate more like ours. Thing is, those logs need water to decompose, and they will dry if left on the surface, even if you cover them with dirt. No water, no hugel.
I have no water at all, so I am trying a buried hugelkulture, you can see my progress in the thread of   the sunken bed.
Since you have some water and can irrigate when needed, my suggestion is to make a half-buried hugelkulture. Dig a trench on contour of 40-50 cm, place the logs without overlapping, cover with clean dirt, stones removed. Keep putting layers of logs, smaller as you proceed up to ground level, then add clean dirt with some compost until you form a small hill of 30-40 cm tall, not more. When it rains, it will hold running water thanks to being on contour, and it will keep it for longer thanks to having plenty of wood. You plant roots won't be bothered by the logs if they have 40 cm to develop underground, but the soil will keep moist for longer. That's the theory.
Just after you are done building the hugel, irrigate it completely so the logs start decomposing faster. Keep adding organic matter every year on top, as the logs decompose. In ten years there should be no more logs, only decomposed organic matter mixed with your dirt.

If you don't have the patience, or the pruned logs available, you can purchase a load of compost, dig the trench and mix it with your soil. A 15 cm layer of compost is more than enough. It's more expensive but it will be ready from day one.



Hola Abraham. This sounds like music to my ears. I was "worried" that my hugel was no perfect. Why I was worried? Because it was more like a half sunken bed. And reading your answer and other posts, it sounds lime this was the right thing to do on this climate.

As you mentioned, I have water available. I dont want to be super dependent on it, but I can create a couple of "rainy days" over the sunken hugel. Lets see what works, is all trial and error.

Also I will keep exploring on how much, how dense and how often to plant for family consumption. It is all trial and error and I have also the other "between rows" beds.

I think that the trend is to see how to decompose organic matter, wood included, in order to maximize abundance on a determinate climate... with minimum effort

We will see!
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 227
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Hi Antonio. Great to hear so many of your seeds came up. Everything in leaf already!
Here it’s just starting to bud out.
It must be surprising when you come back from Madrid and find surprises. This grew much more than you thought , that died.
I see my garden every day almost.

Any way, hugelcultures didn’t do it for me i’ve tried burying wood, then covering with a lot of compost. It’s always bone dry in summer. Then i added more wood on top more classical design. Still a dry and bit of my garden. In other places i tried again. No succes.
No doubt i’ve been dumb and done it all wrong. Still i’d like to advice you to take it easy with putting too much effort into making a lot of them. Before you get this one to flourish. I’d love to see your very succesful pictures before and after!
I’ve read other people struggled as well and it had to do with hot climates. The wood just doen’t supercharge full of water so soaks everything up in summer. If it’s hot where i am..Geoff Lawton from greening the desert doesn’t do them either as far as i know.
Saving seeds i love it so much. You have the chance to select for superdrought resistant varieties. Everything that survives the time you’re not there must have a dry resistant genome. The year afyer you can use these seeds and you get a whole garden full of drought resistant seeds.
In theory at least. If it all dies you’re back at square 1.
I don’t have a lot of water in my garden and water only if they look really shitty, so i have selected a little bit for that.
I have a Maroccan lettuce that i save seed from. First year i harvested it too early. The seeds where blanks. Still some must have fallen off in the field because a few randomly popped up. I have taken care of those and have harvested many seeds. This year they came up magnificently and plenty. This year i’ll eat the smaller ones and let all the big ones be. They are the ones best adapted to my soils. I’ll have more seeds to play with end year. Hopefully enough to just throw them around and walk off next year.
They cross as well with the other lettuces so new genetic material comes in making more selection possible.
I’ve got 4 artichoke varieties this year from different sources and i am going to put them together. Next generation will be all mixed. Landracing. Every generation will be better adapted to the shitty soils we have here.
I do the same with red beets, chard, calendula. Every variety seed people give me is valuable.Keep mixing in new varieties.
This year old people gave me well adapted beans
they took with them from Spain when they migrated thirty odd years ago. That’s so fortunate because i always had bad luck with seeds frim the industry.
I am looking forward to spreading these landrace varieties/succesful varieties to other plant enthousiasts.



Hola Hugo

About hugelkultur, everything is trial and error. But as I said to Abraham, I made a “mistake” wich resulted being good. The final result was more like a sunken or half sunken, wich looks like a better fit for this climate. The goal is to find the best way to cultivate annuals with minimum effort. What I have been doing this months has been very taxing

About saving seeds, yes, that should be a focus for me and need to be more disciplined. I like the landrace concept, because it makes complete sense. We’ve got a land, if we want abundance we need to focus on what thrives here.

And yes, it is fun this going to Madrid and back, so every time I am on the property is like a surprise! Anyway I’ll love to spend more time there
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 227
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Erin Vaganos wrote:This looks AMAZING, Antonio...I'm looking forward to seeing all the growth this season. I'm jealous of all of the fruits you are planting. When I lived in CA, we had a lot of oxalis--it grew really well beneath the redwood trees. We had a few redwoods on one end of our property there, and just about the only thing that grew under them was that and shallow-rooted ferns. If you're still growing Sequoia trees, I would keep that in mind--those trees grow feeder roots that form really dense mats at the soil surface. It's almost impossible to dig into them, and if you do, they'll grow back in a matter of months. If you try putting soil on top, they will grow up into that soil. I've seen people successfully pile on mounds of soil and grow Agapanthus, but the raised garden I tried near the redwood got SHUT DOWN by those roots...



Hola Erin! Thanks for your reply

Oxalis is a nightmare, but I am learning to live with it. Thinking long term, my goal is to weaken it, by cutting it again, and again, and again, until I have other stuff growing.

And about sequoias... I placed seeds of three varieties but who knows what is going to happen. I guess they have not many chances in this climate, but I love placing seeds and wait for the magic
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 227
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Antonio Hache wrote:Hello everybody!

My name is Antonio and I have the project of transforming the family land in Denia, Alicante.

The land was bought in the 50's by my great grandmother, and soon inherited by my grandma, Doña Carmen. At the beginning, if I remember well, all the land was used for raisins. Denia in fact was a very important raisins exporter in the world. But there was a huge crisis because of the filoxera, and people started to focus in Citrus. My grandad was from Cantabria (north of Spain) and he had this love for the animals, so he started also to have cows, chickens, rabbits, making a profit with it (and some pigs just for family consumption). Here is the thing: they were between Denia and Madrid, and with the roads of that time, Madrid was 8 hours away. My grandad had a job in Madrid but took care of the farm. After that, my grandad died, and my grandma, who didn't was a lot into animals, changed everything to 100% citrus. They had basically Salustiana, Valencia and Washington oranges, and changed through the years some of them for Navel Late or Navelina. Also, some fruit trees for family consumption: figs, plums, satsuma, clementine, lemmons, grapefruit. And lot of bay.

It was big enough to sustain the house expenses and my grandma way of life (wich was easy). But life changed and big wholesalers started to impose prices and asphyxiate the economy. So slowly, the citrus business was abandoned . Also, my grandma was aging , Denia was changing, local government started to focus in tourism and forgetting agriculture. So on her last years, orange trees were abandoned, some of them ripped of. This was sad.

In the area there is a huge monocultive tradition. First raisin, then citrus. And the problem with tradition , when it's centenary, is that it can be a curse. People are so used to their old ways, even when they start to fail, that their mental model is difficult to change. They were in citrus monocultive, with trees aways from each other, pesticides, soil cleaning/burning, lots of habits difficult to take away.

Anyway, my grandma died and the land was divided in two parts. The big house and 2150 sq meters of plantable land, were for my father. And another huge part, was for my father, two brothers and one sister (now, one cousin) shared. So well, with this situation, they left the orange abandoned or ripped of, my dad left something in his part and that was it.

Since I was a kid, I could say I was the more interested in the land. My grandma was a woman who had a deep inside love for trees, land, cultivation. She was no innovative, neither had a philosophy of organic or permaculture or anything. She just thought that the land was the right thing and urban development couldnt give anything good in the long term (and she was right, because Denia was devastated by tourism, poor quality jobs, seasonality...). And since I had some use of reason, I started to ask myself questions: how can we do this better? How can we use the land? My dad, my uncles, all were with the "impossible". "That belongs to the past" "you need to invest a lot of money". And also, my dad "you need more land, you need all your uncle's land and they are not selling it, you need a lot of room between trees, our part is very small to make something profitable".

But we have the land and specially in the last 2 years I've been thinking more and more on it. My dad planted some trees "for shadow" in a random way, but I think there is still room. And I think that I can make it profitable in some years. In some parts of the house I started to plant some trees, just to play, some years ago

I have two problems

1.- I have all this but I don't know exactly where to start. At this moment I can make monthly investments but not a huge investment at once. Also, I'm afraid of doing it because I don't have a defined plan. Somehow, I like to experiment and see how it developt, but I'd love also to go faster
2.- I usually spent most of time in Madrid, but took care of things in Denia, going and coming. I say usually because with the Covid 19 and lockdown, I'm spending most of the time in Denia. But don't know how to work things out in the near future, if I should install the family in Denia and leave everything behind or if it is better keep developing the project from Madrid and go full throttle when it starts to be more mature. I have concerns on my kids college, because it's in Madrid. They are only 3 and 1.  The 1 yo doesnt worry me, but the 3 yo was so engaged with her school and friends, so sad when they closed it... but also, it's now 5 months without schools and don't know if in September we'll have schools (they are still debating it!). Anyway, my grandad had the same situation and managed the farm travelling a lot. But I feel the sense that I have to spend more time there. I wanted to go more gradually and not leave all in Madrid without having the project more advanced, but with the postcovid life... I don't know

Finally, in Denia they still have the development mentality, eventhough it's ruinous. But we're somehow in the border between farms and cities and I'm always afraid that some day some mogul is going to come and "force us" to leave. Unlikely to happen in the next 10 years (huge crisis there), but the location is in the edge. But I think that if I keep on going with the project and plant more trees, and build something different and attractive for the area, we can have help from the town government (in a close town, called Palmera, a guy called Vicent Todoli started a huge citrus collection, the town thought it was something valuable so they declared "no urban development in the area").

I have the idea of keep planting things, and maybe make it profitable in some ways: selling seasonal fruit , varied fruit boxes or something like that // nursery for rare trees // making the house a place to visit.

So, what do you think on the project? Some ideas to stop going blindly and have something more like a plan? I want to make all our plantable land a crazy fruit forest. And I'd love to go non-stop. Not to rush (also, because I can't) but non-stop, improve something every month. Sean Dembrosky (Edible acres) gave me some advide and pointed me to this forum, so maybe some of you could give me ideas on next steps

The zone is 10, the weather is stable and soft. End of July and August can be very hot. And for some weeks between September / October is common to have  some days of hail. But rest of the year, everything is soft, no frosts, no nothing

I post also some house pics, so you can have some idea.

Soil: Is clayey, but I'd say very fertile. From October to May is totally green, weed grow everywhere. In June my dad removes them because it get's very dry and he's afraid of fires. Palms and Bay Trees are constantly growing spontaneously. Water: we have our own underground well




I took pictures from the same spots, just to compare
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Abraham Palma
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Isn't it exciting? :)
 
Antonio Hache
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Abraham Palma wrote:Isn't it exciting? :)

Yes, and I want more
 
Antonio Hache
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So, it has been 8 months since my first post here and 6 months since I installed the "agroforestry / syntropic system".

I am happy with the trees and the development and I am thinking in going further with the system. In October I will add 3 small rows. The rows that we have right now are oblique, and are this way cause we had previous trees that I wanted to integrate. The narrow part is 4m between rows, but the widest part is 8m, so I will add an intermediate row in three spots, I want only 4 m distance.

About vegetables, I am going to work more with separated beds and perennial vegetables. At this moment I am going to have vegetables and trees separated, it is easier to manage. I had the veggie beds between rows, but I need visual clarity at this stage. Also, I want generate biomass, so I will let weeds and plants to grow and scythe them, and that is difficult with vegetable beds in between. This has improved my soil for the new rows , and I have learned, but I want to separate it.

I want to investigate more on perennial farming. I know the work of Eric Toensmeier and I have his book, but I'd like to find more inspiration in how to organize everything.

Now it is raining a lot, so everything is going to get wild. My next 2 or 3 working trips are going to be focused in scythe. In May I will made two new half sunken hugel or whatsoever we call it. One is going to be with annuals and the other one with perennials. And this is pretty much everything at this moment
 
Abraham Palma
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or whatsoever we call it.


It's awkard to call it hugel when there's no hill in sight. We've borrowed that term from Sepp for too long.
How about 'mulching bed' ? In the sense that this bed creates mulch under it.
It could be a type of hotbed, but without much nitrogen in it, it will not raise temperature too much, so it could be a 'warmbed' instead. However, being warm is not one of its good features. The good features are water holding capacity and the ability to create mulch out of wood in arid regions.

In spanish it would be 'bancal mantillador', it sounds awful, I know.
 
Antonio Hache
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Abraham Palma wrote:

or whatsoever we call it.


It's awkard to call it hugel when there's no hill in sight. We've borrowed that term from Sepp for too long.
How about 'mulching bed' ? In the sense that this bed creates mulch under it.
It could be a type of hotbed, but without much nitrogen in it, it will not raise temperature too much, so it could be a 'warmbed' instead. However, being warm is not one of its good features. The good features are water holding capacity and the ability to create mulch out of wood in arid regions.

In spanish it would be 'bancal mantillador', it sounds awful, I know.



You are absolutely right. It is a bed with wood and mulch. Not hugel. But that is easier to say and write. 😅
 
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Antonio Hache wrote:

Abraham Palma wrote:

or whatsoever we call it.


It's awkard to call it hugel when there's no hill in sight. We've borrowed that term from Sepp for too long.
How about 'mulching bed' ? In the sense that this bed creates mulch under it.
It could be a type of hotbed, but without much nitrogen in it, it will not raise temperature too much, so it could be a 'warmbed' instead. However, being warm is not one of its good features. The good features are water holding capacity and the ability to create mulch out of wood in arid regions.

In spanish it would be 'bancal mantillador', it sounds awful, I know.



You are absolutely right. It is a bed with wood and mulch. Not hugel. But that is easier to say and write. 😅



I am from a Mediterranean climate. Don't get too carried away with the Ernst Gotsch approach. Keep in mind where that approach was developed (tropical Brazil).]

What I learned from my experience doing food forestry in Santa Barbara, California is that your number one ally is.....SUMMER SHADE.

I used Tipuana tipu, which I'm sure will also work where you are. However, if I could do things over again, I would only plant Albizzia julibrissin. Please plant at least one Albizzia julibrissin tree for every productive tree.

I'll say it again:

Albizzia julibrissin


I also thought pollarding was a good idea, so I did it regularly, but honestly you're better off (and much less work) just letting the trees go for 10 years. Resist the temptation to ever prune them. Whatever you hope to gain from some sort of magical spike in plant growth hormone, will be nullified by the suffering the plants go through month after month of nothing but sunshine. Even common plants and crops that are considered plants for full-sun, will do better under light shade in your climate. Albizzia julibrissin is ideal, because they will drop leaves during the winter rainy season, and the small leaflets breakdown quickly and are very helpful growing Fava Beans. They give good sunshine and fertilizer exactly during the time of year when there is soil moisture available. The rest of the year you want shade, shade, shade. Honestly, I don't think you can have too much shade in the climate, if you're trying to establish fruit trees. Just be careful with allelopathic species like Eucalyptus. I think that's another Ernst Gotsch recommendation, so again you have to keep in mind the setting of the advice. There are some tropical species of Eucalyptus that can be integrated just fine into multi-species systems. Here in tropical Peru, for example, they even use a certain species as overstory for coffee production. On the other hand, you have the species that grow throughout California that do not allow ANYTHING to grow underneath them. Even the leaf mulch of such species stunts the growth of other plants.

Here's a video I filmed a few years ago at my parents' house in my hometown, Santa Barbara, which I made as a sort of introductory video for people who are new to the topic of permaculture and food forestry in Mediterranean climates. Notice at the time of filming, that I had pollarded all the Tipu trees. At this small of a scale, I had to do that, because the Tipus, will get too big too fast, and then require paying an arborist to cut later. In hindsight, a better strategy would have been to use Albizia julibrissin as the main support tree, because it does not usually get as massive. I would have planted Tipuana tipu under the Albizias, and used the Tipu as a constant source of chop & drop. For aesthetic reasons, I chose not to use Albizia, as this was a front yard, and the clients did not want to have anything deciduous ("dead-looking") in the winter. The only irrigation this yard received was rainfall, and 3-4 deep soakings throughout the dry season.

 
Antonio Hache
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Scott Obar wrote:

Antonio Hache wrote:

Abraham Palma wrote:

or whatsoever we call it.


It's awkard to call it hugel when there's no hill in sight. We've borrowed that term from Sepp for too long.
How about 'mulching bed' ? In the sense that this bed creates mulch under it.
It could be a type of hotbed, but without much nitrogen in it, it will not raise temperature too much, so it could be a 'warmbed' instead. However, being warm is not one of its good features. The good features are water holding capacity and the ability to create mulch out of wood in arid regions.

In spanish it would be 'bancal mantillador', it sounds awful, I know.



You are absolutely right. It is a bed with wood and mulch. Not hugel. But that is easier to say and write. 😅



I am from a Mediterranean climate. Don't get too carried away with the Ernst Gotsch approach. Keep in mind where that approach was developed (tropical Brazil).]

What I learned from my experience doing food forestry in Santa Barbara, California is that your number one ally is.....SUMMER SHADE.

I used Tipuana tipu, which I'm sure will also work where you are. However, if I could do things over again, I would only plant Albizzia julibrissin. Please plant at least one Albizzia julibrissin tree for every productive tree.

I'll say it again:

Albizzia julibrissin


I also thought pollarding was a good idea, so I did it regularly, but honestly you're better off (and much less work) just letting the trees go for 10 years. Resist the temptation to ever prune them. Whatever you hope to gain from some sort of magical spike in plant growth hormone, will be nullified by the suffering the plants go through month after month of nothing but sunshine. Even common plants and crops that are considered plants for full-sun, will do better under light shade in your climate. Albizzia julibrissin is ideal, because they will drop leaves during the winter rainy season, and the small leaflets breakdown quickly and are very helpful growing Fava Beans. They give good sunshine and fertilizer exactly during the time of year when there is soil moisture available. The rest of the year you want shade, shade, shade. Honestly, I don't think you can have too much shade in the climate, if you're trying to establish fruit trees. Just be careful with allelopathic species like Eucalyptus. I think that's another Ernst Gotsch recommendation, so again you have to keep in mind the setting of the advice. There are some tropical species of Eucalyptus that can be integrated just fine into multi-species systems. Here in tropical Peru, for example, they even use a certain species as overstory for coffee production. On the other hand, you have the species that grow throughout California that do not allow ANYTHING to grow underneath them. Even the leaf mulch of such species stunts the growth of other plants.

Here's a video I filmed a few years ago at my parents' house in my hometown, Santa Barbara, which I made as a sort of introductory video for people who are new to the topic of permaculture and food forestry in Mediterranean climates. Notice at the time of filming, that I had pollarded all the Tipu trees. At this small of a scale, I had to do that, because the Tipus, will get too big too fast, and then require paying an arborist to cut later. In hindsight, a better strategy would have been to use Albizia julibrissin as the main support tree, because it does not usually get as massive. I would have planted Tipuana tipu under the Albizias, and used the Tipu as a constant source of chop & drop. For aesthetic reasons, I chose not to use Albizia, as this was a front yard, and the clients did not want to have anything deciduous ("dead-looking") in the winter. The only irrigation this yard received was rainfall, and 3-4 deep soakings throughout the dry season.



Hola Scott. I agree 100% with you. The Syntropic way is an inspiration for management and stablishing the system, but also is Stefan Sobkowiak and his trios. I have some Albizzias, but also Robinia Pseudoacadia, Morus Nigra/Alba, Populus Nigra/Alba and other kind of shade and fast growing local trees. I am in the Mediterranean, but Denia is a bit special as it is considered "rainy mediterranean". It has around 200-300 more mm of water than other towns just 50km away, due to its location between mountains and sea. Is like the clouds get "stucked" between Montgo and Penya Roja (the 2 closest mountain ranges here). Also I have the same opinion than you about pruning. Here it should be done differently. It is ideal to prune in late October, as we have shady days until May.

I will have a look on your video later, thanks!
 
Scott Obar
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Based on what you told me about your climate, all my above advice still applies, the only difference is that you will be more successful.
 
Antonio Hache
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Some new pics on the evolution. All the corridors were totally green, I have been scything them (cool workout) and adding the organic matter to the tree rows. i also bought lots of straw.

Now I have new challenges, I have access to my uncles part of the property as all of them agreed to let me work it. So now I dont know where to start.
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I'm so pleased for you that your family were able to come to an agreement about the land.  At least you are able to start without fearing losing your work now.
 
Antonio Hache
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Nancy Reading wrote:I'm so pleased for you that your family were able to come to an agreement about the land.  At least you are able to start without fearing losing your work now.



This is curious, but this agreement about the land has frozen me! I thought it was going to be too difficult, due to the actors involved (uncles, cousins, local government) but suddenly everything fits!

Now I don't know my next step. Maybe you all can help me, basically I have two options

1)Shall I work all the property at once?
2)Or shall I play and work by projects and experiment?

Option 2, I like it because it lets me observe more, and make different plots with different focus. I can learn from one plot and apply the lessons to the next. Maybe there are ideas that I dont have now that I can have next year.

Option 1, it is better for practical reasons (Mark Shepard and his claims that if he could start again, he would plant all at once) and also for "political reasons" (I gained time with the new events, but for sure if I don't move fast, local government will counterattack in some years, unless I have something really valuable)

Summer is coming, is not time to plant a lot in the Mediterranean, but I'd love to give the next step in September, so this weeks I have to plan

What do you think?



 
Abraham Palma
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Keep your project on your land, and use the extra for secondary projects. You don't know when the allowance is going to be taken back.
In fact, I would try to improve the ecosystem of the other land in a way that doesn't require me to work it.
 
Antonio Hache
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Abraham Palma wrote:Keep your project on your land, and use the extra for secondary projects. You don't know when the allowance is going to be taken back.
In fact, I would try to improve the ecosystem of the other land in a way that doesn't require me to work it.



Gracias Abraham. Yes, losing the allowance might be a problem, but also trees are the key to the long term. Local Government values trees, specially some local species, so planting trees might be the solution to use it long term, as long as the trees have time enough to grow. But I am thinking a lot on how to do that as economic as I could. That is why I'm giving all this thougts to creating nursery beds and things like that, I need to generate the most with the minimum investment, due to the threats that I can have long term. The paradox is that, with trees, I can make it more irreversible.

That is also why I am wondering on doing things faster or keep my pace and just do it row by row .
 
Antonio Hache
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Abraham Palma wrote:Keep your project on your land, and use the extra for secondary projects. You don't know when the allowance is going to be taken back.
In fact, I would try to improve the ecosystem of the other land in a way that doesn't require me to work it.



Gracias Abraham. Yes, losing the allowance might be a problem, but also trees are the key to the long term. Local Government values trees, specially some local species, so planting trees might be the solution to use it long term, as long as the trees have time enough to grow. But I am thinking a lot on how to do that as economic as I could. That is why I'm giving all this thougts to creating nursery beds and things like that, I need to generate the most with the minimum investment, due to the threats that I can have long term. The paradox is that, with trees, I can make it more irreversible.

That is also why I am wondering on doing things faster or keep my pace and just do it row by row .
 
Abraham Palma
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Maybe I wasn't clear enough.
I'd plant trees on that land, but I would not do it at the cost of mismanaging my own land project. Minimum maintenance in the other land is what I'd look for, as little to no irrigation, no pest control, no pruning, just let the forest grow on its own. Once I have spare time and am bored, I would take a look at the other land to see if there's anything I could do to improve its state or if I could harvest something.
 
Antonio Hache
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A little video of one of the tree rows. In Spanish and a bit of "Lars Von Trier Dogma style" https://youtu.be/4WDgA_yGcMA
 
Antonio Hache
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By the way, what do you suggest me to plant on this wall in order to not see the buildings behind it? When I was a kid, it was all orchards (pomelo and orange) But the town grew.

The wall has a little gap to plant over it, I dont know if you can see it on the pic. We could plant some fast and tall growing plant, without irrigation
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Hugo Morvan
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The good old broken bottle in cement trick to block unwanted nightly visitors. Hmm might be a shitty build wall that you have to rebuild if it breaks from roots. No figs then.
Wouldn’t it be possible to render the whole wall in a wet mud to make it more friendly to the eye. It will rain off in time but hopefully the trees will be big by then. Just make it in a bucket. Earth water mix it, smear it by hand..
Or sand lime with a big load of local color in it if you want to do a serious job on it. It will only be a day for a good renderer. It will solidify the wall i doubt the owner will object if asked.
The red color is kind of funky south american style i must say. That’s probably the nicest thing i can say about the building.
 
Abraham Palma
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I've tried to watch the video, but it makes me feel dizzy!

For screener, you are looking for trees that get to 4-5 meters quite fast, perennial, with deep roots that don't spread like crazy. Cypress is the obvious answer, but I think you want more variety. Sadly, for our climate if you want a tall no irrigation perennial, then we are talking pines and cypresses, or any related species.
Pinus Halepensis (carrasco) reaches 12 meters, which is manageable. Pinus pinea (piñonero) is too big, 30 meters, but at least you can eat the seeds. However pinus are tricky, since if you planted them very close together, they will not develop lower branches and you'll end up seeing the wall behind. Araucarias are also very popular, and they usually keep their lower branches, they won't shade completely the buildings behind but the wall will remain obscured.

Maybe you can combine a vine to hide the wall with some tall trees to hide the building. Hedera helix (yedra) is a no brainer, but you might use grapes, passiflora, ...
Alternatively you can grow some tall shrubs between the pine trunks, like cistus ladanifer (jara pringosa), retama sphaerocarpa, calicotome villosa (erguén), pistacia lentiscus, ... If you are going to plant this, a very good companion is chamaerops humilis (palmito), it's not very tall, but it's an edible and local palm tree.

Or you may call a local artist and let him decor that wall as he pleases. Until you wait for your trees to grow, that is.
 
Hugo Morvan
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Hedera Helix, my neighbor grows it on our common wall. It cracks the joints and more of it enters. Rips wall apart. Then he blames my trees for the damage and seriously expects me to repair it.
Grapevine and passiflora are great growers indeed.
 
Antonio Hache
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Gracias Hugo and Abraham for your replies. I think I will go for passiflora and grapes. Hiedra (hedera helix) can get crazy. Also I have some cypress that I need to move, so I could use them. I am tired of seeing that red building!!
 
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Hi Antonia,
I live in Xabia right next door to you, I am a beginner but almost through my PDC course and more than willing to give you any free help and advise I can.
Kind regards
Steve
 
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Hi Steve

Welcome to Permies.
 
Antonio Hache
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I am investigatin on tree propagation. I was going to make a propagation bed, but my mate Tony is using the chosen place for some work, so this have to wait.

But I dont know how to do nothing, so I made two experiments.

First, an Air Prune Bed. The wooden one.

Second, a "hugelbased box". I found this old blue box filled with wood sticks and I thought "what if I cover it with leaves and soil and put tree seeds on it?"

My favorite thing is still to direct seed, but I want to investigate different methods. With trees and veggies , as everyvody, I aim for the perfect mix between time and effectiveness.

For example, some seeds I direct seeded them. But were very attractive for ants, slugs, or did not have the right conditions to germinate. No time consumption, but not effective. Other stuff I can grow it if I start it indoors, or in germination pots, but then they take a lot of time in transplants etc
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Abraham Palma
pollinator
Posts: 463
Location: Málaga, Spain
154
home care personal care forest garden urban food preservation cooking
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Have you considered companion planting?

Sometimes you have to seed two plants together, so one acts as a nurse (and it's to be chopped later) while the other can survive. In the case of ants, maybe you can find some plants that repel them. Fennel is said to repel ants, but also inhibits growth of solanaceae.
Sometimes it is physical protection against birds, meaning you have to seed your tree under a thorny bush.
Or heat protection, from the shade of a scorching sun tolerant plant.
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 227
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
43
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Yes, I have. I am companion man 😘

But anyway, I want to explore ways to propagate. We will see wich one is better!
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 227
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Not only I do have a beautiful sunset. The "half hugel" are working quite okay, so far, on this corner of the Mediterranean. No irrigation. This place, Denia, is a bit rainier than other close towns, it is said that it is due to the location between the sea and the mountain. My grandma always said that the clouds got locked on the Montgo top (the mountain). Maybe this is why we are rainier than other mediterranean locations. Since October I dont remember a week without at least one day of rain. It is not heavy rain, but it is something. Or maybe I have been lucky. This morning was raining, anyway
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Antonio Hache
Posts: 227
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Hola Steve! Of course, you are more than welcome here. I had to leave this morning for job reasons, but will be back on June 25 and I dont have more travel until October I think
 
Posts: 93
Location: Orba, Alicante, SPAIN
30
forest garden fungi trees
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You could experiment with a mulch (maybe just a few meters squared coverage at first) made from the dried leaves of Melia azedarach https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melia_azedarach#Toxicity ).

It grows well in the region and the leaves have a compound very similar to Neem (therefore the 'azedarach' referring to Neem which Is Azadirachta indica).
You can collect the leaves from street trees, in parks or other people's gardens. And you can start some of your own easily from seed collected the same way.

In addition, the wood is close to mahogany (same family, Meliaceae), which is named for this tree). It produces a valued fine timber, but of course only valued for that if there is a local market. I don't know how many cabinet-makers or other artisanal woodworkers remain in the region, and for small quantities of logs they would most likely be your market. Still, the trees grow easily, produce a number of useful chemical compounds, are beautiful and add diversity.

erik
 
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