May 2019 -- Overall Summary
The efforts in the Thessaloniki area are going well. We have three areas that can be considered planted, with small trees over 2-6 years old. I am at the point where I can say with confidence, "we can reforest Northern Greece with seeds and provide food for all creatures, at a fraction of the cost of conventional tree planting"
Efforts and energy will now shift to Athens (500 km South), and Sparta (800 km South). The summers there are longer, and conditions are harsher for young trees. The issue of land degradation and desertification is more intense there. The objective is to cover the earth with plants, shrubs and trees. Soil improvement and regeneration is the primary goal !!!
We have a new design/mix for the clay cubes, and will be testing it over the next few years - it looks promising.
Update on the Katsika Mountain Effort
This is the area we discussed four months ago and have photos on page 17 of this thread (trying to reforest a bare mountain while it's being grazed by goats)...we planted small pine and cypress trees and protected them with rocks...the video shows the results so far...even if 1 tree survives the summer heat and goats, I will be satisfied. See
This is the mountain where we used the drone to scatter seeds like the medick tree....it may take a few years before we see the results, if any.
Update Clay Cubes- New Design
We placed few clay cubes in Thessaloniki, Athens and Sparta to evaluate the new design.
The clay cubes are 6 cm x 6 cm x 3 cm height (nominal)….A mix of 5 parts clay 5 parts manure and 2 parts chopped straw was used (parts by volume). The seeds were placed at the bottom of the forms and at the top of the clay...only seeds that are known to sprout easily and do well were used (wild pear, plum and medick tree)...alfalfa seeds were mixed in with the clay manure mix….see page 16 (middle of page)
The Sparta region experienced catastrophic rains. The clay cubes there were totally destroyed…see video
Athens had "normal" rainfall...most of the cubes produced young trees - the cubes lost a small amount of their volume from rains...see the Athens
Thessaloniki experienced well below normal rainfalls...the cubes remained intact...but few trees sprouted...see
. The previous year, with the same weather pattern, the “typical” cubes produced no trees.
Clay cubes in Thessaloniki produced trees at a rate of 25%, in Athens 75%1, and in Sparta no trees.
A major advantage of using this design is that you can see how many seeds are in each cube, and consequently use fewer seeds.
We will be trying to reforest small pieces of land 20 km east and a bit south of Sparta..at elevations 200 to 400 meters ranging from hard red clay to rich healthy soil and rocky areas that have hardly any soils.
Two areas we will be planting belong to my family, and have some olive trees. These are small plots, less than 3,000 square meters each. Here we will test to see what trees can thrive without care, to improve the soil and strengthen the existing olive trees - create mini natural farms (Masanobu Fukuoka, San).
We will also place seeds in public areas that are degraded and have very little soil...much of the public land is overgrazed, so there will be difficulties. Trees will have a hard time penetrating the rocky surface.
This is by far the most difficult area...but indications are that carob trees, laburnum and almonds grow from seed unassisted...at lower survival rates (needs work and observation).
The carob trees, oaks and olive trees can form the basis of reforestation for the area, as they probably were in ancient times. I suspect oaks will do well here. Mother nature plants plenty of wild olive trees here...I just don't know yet how it does it...so far my efforts to use the olive tree for reforestation have failed. There are carob trees around but do not self seed. There are very few oaks around...they were cut down by ignorance and greed. Mankind has gone after trees with a vengeance.
This area is at 1000+/- meters elevation. It's 40 km east and a bit north of Sparta and the area is covered with conifers - (pines, cedars and fir (but mostly pines). It's a beautiful green mountain that provides relief from the oppressive summer heat in the valley below (A Area).
I have placed seeds in this area in the previous years, and due to the high elevation, and cooler summers, it's easy to plant trees here. Apples, apricots, plums, and almonds...all survive here at good rates. I will try walnuts, chestnuts etc to see how they do.
As usual, we need to be aware of the goats, mice, and wild pigs...wild pigs are very active here.
The main forests in Greece consist of pine trees. If as projected, the pines wither away in the next 50 years, the country will be in trouble...increased temperatures, fires, floods, carbon release etc.
I am afraid this condition, applies to many regions around the world with Mediterranean and similar climates.
But if life gives you lemons ... make lemonade !!!
We can start planting drought tolerant fire resistant trees, and trees that will improve the soil and provide food... it's a call to action for all prudent people; replace a weak pine forest with a better, healthy, multi species, productive forest. I am optimistic and confident we can do it.
This is the 2nd visit to the area, which burned down 2 summers ago. We will use the same seeds we used in Thessaloniki, so we can evaluate, which ones do well here. We will also be looking for new trees and shrubs which thrive here, and testing to see if they can be used for reforesting.
We need to spend more time here...the half hour visits on the way to Sparta are not enough.
Update Petralona Halkidiki
The area denoted Petra ND (3,000 m^2) as noted previously is considered planted ...we may add a few seeds each year, but the only thing we have to do is wait. See the older video
Area denoted Rema...for the last 2 - 3 years, we been placing seeds in this area...its around 500 square meters. This area is visited by mice, and we have used it as a testing ground...see
In Spite of the mice we have many trees growing, and will continue putting seeds in the ground. In due time it will provide fruits and nuts for the people nearby.
Ten years from now we will regret not having placed more seeds in the ground.
Here, like Thessaloniki, we can easily create, an edible food forest, if we persist for 2 to 5 years.
Update for Thessaloniki follows soon.