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Converting an orchard into a forest garden - Aikido style  RSS feed

 
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Location: Herefordshire, England, UK
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We moved to our place about six years ago and were lucky enough to have a fully established orchard on the land. Ever since then I’ve been thinking about converting it into a forest garden. I’ve always been intrigued by Dave Jacke’s proposal of “aikido-ing existing succession” (described in Edible Forest Gardens Vol 1, page 287) so I thought I’d give it a go here. The strategy fitted my requirements as (at least theoretically) it requires minimal input of time and money. I have decided to put the method to the test and am having a lot of fun with it.

Has anyone else experimented with this kind of slow and steady approach? Are there any particular techniques you can recommend, and plants that you have successfully encouraged on your site?
 
garden master
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Good to see someone else using the slow, steady improvement approach, I do hope you are keeping a note book with good records.

Wolf and I moved onto our land in 2014 (right after the Tornado came through) and we have had to use the slow steady approach since both of us only have weekends to do any real work on the farm and we only have hand tools for the most part.
Unlike you, we started on a hunk of land that only had naturally occurring trees (the only fruits were blackberries, passion fruit vines, muscadine, wild grape and persimmon).
The land had been cleared 7 years earlier but was abandoned before one year had past.
Succession had been in full swing for those seven years with sumac and black berry being the main succession plants and those had been on a rampage, reclaiming all the previously cleared space.
Even the footing for the burned down house was obscured by the over growth as was the septic tank and water supply line, only the electric power poles were apparent when we bought the land.
It took us a full year to discover what infrastructure was still there by cutting and pulling many sumac trees and their root systems, pulling blackberry crowns and removing many sapling hickory trees that had come up from seeds.
We lived in a 17 foot pull behind trailer for three years while we started building our orchard and garden spaces, putting up fencing where we needed it to keep coyotes out.
So far we are in a holding pattern this year due to health issues that are being delt with, but we will continue to work on the planed setup as we are able.

The biggest thing is to draw out a plan, without one you will make far less progress each year because you have to stop and think of your intended direction every time you are ready to start a new project.
We now have more persimmons coming up from seed, I've worked on getting the muscadines cut so they will produce the way I want them to, and the wild grapes have also been worked on so they will grow like grape vines in a vineyard.
We started our raised beds with wooden borders but now that I have the soil building nicely it is time to use a more permanent construction material so I don't have to replace the bed wood every year.
We keep plugging along, knowing that when I retire I will be able to devote much more time every week to getting our retirement homestead farm working the way we want it too.
 
Tomas Remiarz
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Interesting perspective Bryan. Sounds like your approach is much tidier than ours!

Our orchard was badly neglected and overgrown when we arrived, so I spent a lot of  the first three years cutting out dead and diseased wood and bringing the trees back to a state of good health and productivity. In the meantime we kept the meadow underneath going by cutting it with a scythe two or three times a year, mostly to have access to the fruit trees and keep open the paths through the orchard. Over the last couple of years we have reduced the mowing intensity further, and now the land has the feel of a wild medow turning into scrubland, but highly productive scrubland.

Blackberries are pretty prevalent here, too. As self seeding trees we get a lot of prunus, most of them wild hybrids of the plums we inherited. We leave them to grow for a few years, then see how good the fruit is and take out the ones we don't like.
 
pollinator
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Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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Tomas Remiarz wrote:We moved to our place about six years ago and were lucky enough to have a fully established orchard on the land. Ever since then I’ve been thinking about converting it into a forest garden. I’ve always been intrigued by Dave Jacke’s proposal of “aikido-ing existing succession” (described in Edible Forest Gardens Vol 1, page 287) so I thought I’d give it a go here. The strategy fitted my requirements as (at least theoretically) it requires minimal input of time and money. I have decided to put the method to the test and am having a lot of fun with it.

Has anyone else experimented with this kind of slow and steady approach? Are there any particular techniques you can recommend, and plants that you have successfully encouraged on your site?



Without having at least some elements about this strategy, it is very difficult to give any answer. So, in a nut-shell, what is aikido style?

My strategy is only to see where I can grow protection from the wind, but most wind comes from ...above, so it is not totally feasible. So I grow trees in the most narrow part of the valley.

Then I try to see where I want shade and sun, so that I have room for herbaceaes. Then I grow all that is possible in winter so that I can get organic matter when it rains.

With an orchard, mine was oranges and avocados and i had to cut too, then I find that it is just about cleaning where you have room after getting the paths for fruit  harvest, and plant!

And if trees are all the same age and quite old, I would cut part of them and plant young trees, so that they do not have to all be replaced at the same time.
 
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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what is aikido style?



This?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aikido_styles
Aikido

Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Aikido is often translated as "the way of unifying life energy" or as "the way of harmonious spirit"

 
Xisca Nicolas
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What is the strategy like, ...for a forest garden!!!
 
pollinator
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Location: Australia, Canberra
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Aikido, being different than most of the martial arts, uses the force of the attacker and in places even increases that force by adding extra force. The person attacked has long been moved itself from the line of attack and the attacker now going faster in a direction they cannot control.

Aikido controls the flow and redirects it where it needs to go to avoid collision. Also opponent's resistance creates a force field but finding the angle at the edge of that field gives you an entry point to eliminate the attacker.

In my humble opinion, it is the most "permaculture" martial art and after trying many of it, I settled on Aikido naturally.

Dave Jacke says:

to "aikido" an existing succession means to see what eco system is doing, then add your own energy to redirect the flow. A grassland beginning to grow wild black berries, so you grow black berries or simply encourage the ones that are there already. Aikido-ing succession is less about design and more about benevolent and skillful opportunism. 



Dave Jacke uses the Aikido metaphor to explain the observation principle of permaculture and how your design might be fitting into those natural flows.

 
Gurkan Yeniceri
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:What is the strategy like, ...for a forest garden!!!



That would be observing what already grows on the land and finding similar alternatives you like or nurturing what is already there to produce a yield with minimal force.
 
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