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Foster Food Forest, a work in progress

 
master pollinator
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I'm always taking pictures of my baby, food-forest but never share them.  I'm starting to see small improvements here and there so I thought I'd use this like a garden diary.  This will be a place for me to post pictures of what I have going on.  IF I even bring up gardening or anything permaculture around the family I can see the eyes roll.:-)

This year the biggest issue has been too much rain.  The fruit trees, especially the apples have been hit hard.  My place is three acres of grass with trees added.  Slowly but surely it's improving.  My biggest problem is keeping grass from encroaching on what I've done.  

The biggest thing I've learned this year is that fruiting bushes on their own rootstock are doing much better than grafted fruit trees. I got a lot of fruit this year from raspberries, blueberries and cherry bushes but nothing from grafted apples, pears, plums, apricots or cherries .

 I'm going to shift my focus to wild varieties on their own rootstock and I'm forest diving for nut trees.

This area is west of my home, it's fenced for deer.  I have started clearing the beds but left a few things, like nasturtiums, in place.  I'm not quite done chipping yet, waiting for cardboard.  


What did you notice this year?  Anything major that has changed the way you plant or how you look at your forest?




Working on edges




Everything flower is loving the rain.


A work in progress, an heirloom rose trellis and joining two mulched islands.



Rain comes weeds


Building compost bins for bed building beds


Learning what to plant and what to do with the bounty


Grapes and berry bushes seem to do well this year.



https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/uGjg8NKooqTvC9pEec9vlumxMX3xAydMMNSlvtyQPSn76MxOwg5oXghCDR2SIG4-dbhpDs2Xk64bEUemYl0RcPzCYk-SQYcDzQAhFmYtbqTdEjzxV_5XqwGUDm5x0YnFFKuRmFUd-w=w2400












 
master pollinator
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Looks fantastic!  Great harvest.
 
Scott Foster
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Looks fantastic!  Great harvest.




Thanks Tyler!  It's the first year where I produced more than I know what to do with.  I really need to learn canning, drying and pickling.
 
garden master
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Awesome!!! Please keep us posted with more updates, Scott! What you're doing is wonderful!
 
Scott Foster
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Dave Burton wrote:Awesome!!! Please keep us posted with more updates, Scott! What you're doing is wonderful!



Thanks, Dave, will do!
 
Scott Foster
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I have a pear tree in my yard that's probably coming up on 100 years old.    It is dwarfed by the cherry tree next to it and has probably struggled all of its life.   I think that's a testament to how awesome the tree is.  Ancient and on its own roots.  

I was pulling weeds and almost had a pear hit me in the head.  The tree is so big and trimmed so high, I never think of it as a fruit tree.  I know, kind of stupid.  Anyway, the pear is an alternate bearing tree but it is loaded with small fruit.

Not one of my grafted fruit trees including three pears produced a single piece of fruit this year.  As a matter of fact, all of my pears have lost most of their leaves.  

So these pears are good enough to eat but you would probably want to peel them.   I started collecting them and I'm going to use the Twisted Tree farm method of a paint mixer in a bucket to pull seeds.  I see Peary Cider in my future :-)

This tree is a keeper, it's in my yard and has totally been off my radar.

Unknown Pear type









   
 
Scott Foster
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I started a bunch of broccoli indoors last winter and they did not do well.  Mostly, I didn't have anywhere to put them.    Anyhow, I left one broccoli plant in the annual boxes on my patio and it got really big.  Of all things, this is what my first hummingbirds decided to eat from.

Yep, I have hummingbirds for the first time eating from my broccoli, read that in a manual.    They don't hang out much because I haven't really planned for them.  Up to this point, my focus has been on bees and butterflies.

I love this time of year.  It really feels like winter is coming.  I guess it's almost September but wow this summer went fast.   Am I really hearing Canadian Geese and is it really in the sub-70's?

    When I see my food forest start to get a little messy I remember a video I watched on Michael Phillips the author of the Holistic Orchard.  Let some things flower, leave some stuff over winter and leave things a little messy.  This is where things live.  (Not a direct Quote.)  I will leave a link to this video below the pictures.  
It's

not so much the particulars of what he says but the overall theme.  For whatever reason, this video has a huge impact on how I think about my food forest.  Cheers and happy Labor day.  

Hummingbird Broccoli



Baby Black Locust in it's second year.



This mint really took off

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Hog fence as a trellis.  I planted Some Heirloom roses on their own rootstock but they are still babies.

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Michael Phillips talking about biodynamic accumulators and etc.


 
Scott Foster
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I filled a five-gallon bucket with pears and added a little bit of water at a time.   Dump, water dump.  Some of the cores were pretty tough so I had to dig the seeds with a pocket knife.  

The bad seeds float out with the debris.  Many thanks to Akiva at Twisted Tree Farm for the idea.  These will be going in the ground this weekend.





 
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This is awesome Scott, I can't wait to start my own little garden!
 
Scott Foster
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Thanks, Tony.

Let us see your garden when you start it.
 
Scott Foster
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I have been thinking about adding Oak trees to my little forest.  I actually saw some last weekend when I was camping in New York state.  I didn't get around to collect acorns.  I've been thinking about oaks, ever since.

This is the year where my forest started providing volunteer trees and plants.  I have so many maples of every variety, including Japanese.  I don't know what to do with them.

Today I got a big surprise.  I'm not going to say it feels spiritual but it kind of does.  I'm not an emotional guy but nature continues to blow my mind.  The following pictures are of baby oaks.   I live in a grassy area, none of my neighbors have oaks.  We don't have any squirrels.

These were either in the ground, and the biodiversity and the wood chips brought them out, or they were in some of the wood chips added along the way.

Oak leaves are obvious but I was so sure there wouldn't be an oak volunteer I ignored the first two I saw.  Then I picked the following tree that volunteered under a Blue Spruce.

AT first I thought this was a nitrogen nodule and I was like no way, it's an acorn.  I have oaks.  




Baby Oak






 
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Scott Foster wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:Looks fantastic!  Great harvest.




Thanks Tyler!  It's the first year where I produced more than I know what to do with.  I really need to learn canning, drying and pickling.



Yes, definitely useful skills to have.

Anyway, looks a fabulous amount of food there.
 
Scott Foster
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Thanks, Helen. :-)
 
Scott Foster
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10/07/2018

Two weeks ago  I cleaned up most of my annual beds and left the anemic looking flowers in place.  Today, after a couple of weeks of neglect, I went out to finish the clean-up.

I just ended up pulling weeds and chop and drop.  There was too much activity from bumble bees, honey bees, and little critters to cut flowering plants.  I was very surprised by this.  My Sunchokes, from Twisted Tree Farm, are off the hook as are the black locusts.  I have some clumping bamboo that is healthy, but it just won't grow.  I'm not sure what's up.

.......These pictures were taken today.

I figured these nasturtiums would be spent, not so much.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/P5btcoxauHWSrObB7snyhTT17MHoMNmlOaygUo_C9qaJakZ8U_IsajI6ynX3yiZEutIwC0XTNUyi1gNeo_6jYVMEx_6DPl4FyRNKdk7077yBWmMggLmHPigvkLPgrSP_QzhKSPyZvQ=w2400

Honey Bees with loaded legs.



Honey Bee



Bumbles




Volunteers, I must have dropped some seeds, Tomato, calendula and carnation



Clumping Bamboo that just doesn't want to grow, year four and they are only 1 ft tall.







 
Helen Butt
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I don’t know what your climate is like but here (ie in the microclimate of my garden at least) nasturtiums last until about Christmas. Great for salads :-)
 
Scott Foster
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Helen Butt wrote:I don’t know what your climate is like but here (ie in the microclimate of my garden at least) nasturtiums last until about Christmas. Great for salads :-)



That would be great.  I'm guessing they will start a rapid decline at the first frost.
 
Helen Butt
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Scott Foster wrote:

That would be great.  I'm guessing they will start a rapid decline at the first frost.



I think it depends on the type of frost. Surprisingly, we did actually have some frost the other night - it stayed above freezing, though - and the nasturtiums are business as usual. They have probably adapted to conditions over the years but definitely a hard frost would see them off.
 
Scott Foster
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I did a walkabout this morning to check out the budding food forest.   This has been a really strange year for weather.  26.6 inches of precipitation so far in 2019.   I fully expected all of my fruit trees to be fungus filled but overall they look pretty good.  These pictures are for my records but feel free to comment.
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First blooms on peonies that were planted last year
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Even with CAR I'm getting apples
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First flowers on the purple robe locust
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4 varieties of basket willow taking off
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Twisted tree farms black locust cuttings-they're leafing...
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Twisted tree farms Wild Mulberry cuttings...they're leafing
 
Scott Foster
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2019-Kazakhstan Apple Seedlings.  I'm hopeful, they appear to be somewhat resistant to CAR.  Ton's of rain this year...26.9" by June 1, 2019
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Kazakhstan Apple Seedlings-out in the forest raised bed 1-Some signs of Car but somewhat resistant-26.9" of rain so far
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Kazakhstan Apple Seedlings2
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Kazakhstan Apple Seedlings3
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Kazakhstan Apple Seedlings4
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Kazakhstan Apple Seedlings5
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Second batch of Kazakhstan seedlings in pots and doing well.
 
Scott Foster
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Perrenial and annual flower beds have sprouted.  Perrenial flowers that were planted out last year are doing really well and starting to take off.   Comfrey is doing a little too well...I'm seeing loads of the queen babies on the comfrey.  Comfrey seems to be the go-to source for bumblebees, maybe it is because there is so much of it.     Due to the amount of rain I have a lot of hand weeding to do.  I spent 8 hours on Saturday and it's like I did nothing.  

Heirloom roses are doing well.   Jerusalem artichoke is out of control...it's everywhere.  Not sure how to feel about that, depends on how it affects the trees around it.
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Here is a tip for your comfrey.  If it gets too tall and it's shading something you don't want it to, but you don't want to chop it, just step on it in the direction you want to mulch.  You can step on it and break it right to the ground.  It will cover the ground, keep growing, and new shoots will grow up just as they do when you cut it.

Bumblebees love comfrey flowers at my place too, and they have lots of choices.  I planted lots and lots of extra plants so that I have plenty for chop and drop, while still having lots that I can leave alone for flowers for the bees.

Love the progress pictures of your place.  It looks great.
 
Scott Foster
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Thanks, Trace

Much appreciated.  You read my mind with the comfrey.  I've been wanting to chop and drop they're loaded with bumbles.  Good suggestion.  I will definitely do some stomping this weekend.
 
Scott Foster
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The oldest apple tree in my mini-orchard is coming up on five years old.  It is an heirloom called the Esopus Spitzenburg.  This tree has been sickly from the beginning.  Honestly, I had written it off.  I figured I would be grafting it or cutting it down and replanting it.

Cedar Apple Rust is a major problem in this area and this tree gets hammered.  This weekend I've been doing walk about and spreading some chips, really just enjoying the first year of true growth and examining what I have.

This year something changed with the Esopus.     This year the Esopus looks healthy and it is loaded with fruit.

What has changed?   The tree does have CAR but it's much less than normal.   This tree has never had apples, it has apples this year.  The area around it is full of nitrogen fixers, including black locust and comfrey. The N. fixers are reaching a higher level of vibrance.  

I pruned this tree heavily, two years ago.  I pruned it according to Skillcult's standards, you could throw a goat through the top of the tree.

So it's June and this tree looks healthy.  I don't really understand why.   A combination of things?  

I followed Skillcult's instructions when pruning.









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Esopus is top right next to a black locust
 
Scott Foster
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A flower arrangement for my wife on our 24th Wedding Anniversary.  All of these flowers are from Baker Creek, minus the Heirloom Roses.   It's kind of a hodge podge but you take what nature gives you.   I also picked her some strawberries...her favorite fruit. Time sure does fly.

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Scott Foster wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:Looks fantastic!  Great harvest.




Thanks Tyler!  It's the first year where I produced more than I know what to do with.  I really need to learn canning, drying and pickling.



I can all the time!  It becomes addicting!
 
Scott Foster
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This year I used raised starter beds close to the house to grow perennials so I can divide and plant out.  A newfound favorite Coreopsis Golden Globe from Baker Creek seeds.  This flower draws honey bees, bumblebees, and butterflies.  I've also noticed tiny beneficial insects flying around.

Coreopsis Golden Globe: Perennial-very double type-ray-flowers deeply pleased or even conical in shape.  Brilliant sunburst look  Stocky plants branch freely from the base, reach 2ft (mine is actually bigger than this)  All-season bloom.

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Coreopsis Golden Globe 1 0f 3
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3 of 3
 
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