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Seaside forest garden planning - strong/salty wind protection  RSS feed

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Hello everyone,

First of all I'd like to send my appreciation to everyone that shares the knowledge and experiences in the forum. I've been following it for the last 3 years but only now I've decided to participate and ask for some guidance and advise regarding two topics: hedges & trees.

After a lot of reading about sustainability, food forests, permaculture and other related topics it became clear that these would be areas I'd like to have embedded in my daily life.

I've recently acquired a property near the coast, aprox 350 meters from the ocean, in the north of Portugal, zone 9b. The property is rectangular (N/S) with around half an acre - and I intend to move there within a couple of years. Still, and thinking in advance, after going through quite an extensive data acquisition period, I find myself planning and executing some of the tasks that are possible at the moment.
The next step - this one - is regarding hedges & trees.

This area of the country is quite windy throughout the year, it has a high humidity rate, and a big presence of salty sea breeze. The soil is acidic.

My main goal with designing the hedges is to have a strong wind protection (specially north & northwest and west) in order to be possible to have fruit/nut/technical trees established. There are very few fruit trees/vines - figs, lemons, kiwis -  in the neighbourhood and most of them are well protected from northwest winds. I intend to have a few protected areas along the property and hedges will play a very important role.

On my first compilation of possible options, I didn't really focus on multi-functional (edibles, NF) vines or shrubs but rather on their tolerance to the elements and their efficiency of wind-breaking (evergreens), dimensions and establishing rates.

The current list is as follows:

hedera helix
hedera helix hibernica
ficus pumila
trachelospermum jasminoides
fatshedera lizei
campsis radicans

Interplanting options:
Parthenocissus quinquefolia D
parthenocissus inserta D
gelsemium sempervirens
lonicera sempervirens
lonicera heckrottii goldflame

I would be very happy to hear from anyone - from suggestions to comments regarding any of these. Maybe there are some other options more aligned with permaculture design principles/goals that suit the location and it's characteristics.

The second request is itself regarding to trees tolerant to such conditions - it's very uncommon to see fruit trees along the cost of Portugal and a micro-climate area seems to be mandatory for it's success (with dwarf root-stock in the equation). I would appreciate any suggestions of fruit/nut trees that would be suitable for this area. It seems such a big challenge to grow fruit trees by the coast that any shared experience is more than welcome.

Thank you.
Posts: 85
Location: Castelo Branco, Portugal
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Hi Tiago, you seem to know what there is to know.
The wind/salt protection is crucial but like you said, there are not a lot of trêes só close to the ocean. The Quick responde is Pinus, but they grow very slowly, and cana, Which in a small área like yours can divert the wind to the neighbours lol.
Where exatly is it?

It would Be nice if you could share your experiênces through time as yours is an uncommon situation for a site.

Boa sorte!
Tiago Maia
Posts: 2
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Hi Velho Barbudo, thank you for your reply.

I feel that the challenge is huge but there are a lot of options and within time some areas will become suitable for a few fruit trees or vines. For now it's about increasing the chances of success - thus my post. I trust that I'll find some non-fruit trees that will be of good help in developing the site into a sort of food forest.

For edges I understand that there are more common options used in general gardening - Elaeagnus/griselinia - and i might have to use them but i'd really want to compile as much of accurate data so I can lay down my options and have an hybrid of multi functional shrubs & vines that non only will provide good wind protection / privacy but also supply the garden with more (either being edibles or good to attract pollinators, NF...)

There are some resources online on coastal gardening and salt tolerant species  - i will see how applying the knowledge will go and look forward to share it here.

The plot is located north of Póvoa de Varzim.

Again, thank you for the comment.

Posts: 2295
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
forest garden solar
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'sea90' deposit on your land is perfectly fine. It gets diluted and leached away.

If I had to give any suggestion it would be to plant from seed. to get locally adapted roots.
And then graft onto those hardy root-stock, but they will probably taste find without grafting.
I would plant 10x what you need and cull the weak/pest ridden seedling.

Next suggestion would be plants that naturally grow on/near salty beaches (coconut/etc)
Also plants that grow in arid conditions (dates/pistachio)

But overall I wouldn't worry about it too much.
Posts: 40
Location: Cape Town
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I'm a little further from the ocean (2km) but we also get extremely strong winds (sometimes salty), have very sandy soil and also have a Mediterranean climate. What is your water situation like? If you have plentiful water (and time to water), growing from seed in situ may be ok, but growing in pots/bags may be better. I do grow from seeds and cuttings, but I grow in bags and then gradually harden things out.

I use relatively large, wind resistant trees/shrubs grown in bags very densely as a barrier/hedge/windbreak, then sell them or move them to a new area of cultivation when the tree is hardy enough to survive. Good windbreaks with relatively low water needs (and non-invasive) here include Cape Silver Oak (brachylaena discolor), some types of hibiscus (which I sell when it is no longer helpful/useful), our native fynbos (proteas etc-- which are hard to get started and don't like their roots being disturbed but form great windbreaks), and kei apples. Some acacias (and senegalensia) do well too. If you have a house on the site, I would suggest starting by planting where the house provides some wind protection, then work outwards (if necessary growing in bags close to house, then gradually moving the bags further away from wind protection). I have also used shade cloth/wire around trees, temporarily in places. In my experience it has been better to give as much attention as possible to trees in their first year, then taper off attention as they get more established/stronger.

I also use various types of pelagonia/geraniums around small trees as a small windbreak, as the tree grows it doesn't need the windbreak anymore, and has also outgrown the pelagonia, which stays small and doesn't mind wind. It's so easy to propagate many pelagonia from cuttings that I focus on quantity. Sometimes I'll also put trees/shrubs in bags around a tree as a windbreak, which also acts as a type of mulch to the tree I'm trying to protect. If I water the bags, extra water goes down to the tree.

I have not had much luck growing from seed and then leaving things alone, not even during winter rains. I have had success planting relatively large, hardy plants as a windbreak during winter or where I can water regularly for a week or two after planting-- and then leaving these alone to focus on edibles. Nowadays I'm able to grow many types of passiflora, grapes, pomegranate, almond, citrus, tamarillos bananas etc-- but they are all behind some level of windbreaks and all currently supported by watering. As my windbreak grows and my soil improves, I hope that the need for watering will decrease, but I am happy to water to help get the food forest established-- and happy to continue to water via drip irrigation if it means I get food.
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