Stephen Mayer

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since Aug 07, 2014
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Recent posts by Stephen Mayer

Two interesting things ... 1) they amend the soil and 2( they plant really close together in a random pattern. I'm curious about how they do #1. They also use a wide variety of plants (biodiversity) in a small area. The results are amazing ... I'm thinking of using this model for our food forest too ...
3 years ago
So I've been reading about afforest and about how they make initial soil amendments based on testing, followed by intensive planting, mulching and watering to create a forest that apparently grows extremely fast and establishes itself within several years. Their claim is that they can grow a 100 year forest in 10 years. I would love to do this on my property. However I have some questions and I'm curious if anyone here can help:

1) In preparing the soil for planting what do permaculturalists normally do?
2) I suspect that there is something wrong with my soil because everything I plant is failing to really thrive. Growth rates are stunted or extremely slow. Perhaps this is because it is heavy clay? Or I'm missing some soil nutrient/mineral?
3) Organic matter is low in my soil ... its really just a heavy loam/clay. This is really common in the Nashville area apparently.
4) We get plenty of water ... so I'm not super worried about there not being enough water in the soil. Combination of covering with mulch/wood chips and the heavy clay content just stores water like crazy.
5) Currently the area has a mix of grasses ... trees prosper around the outskirts of the area I want to plant (though they don't tend to get very tall and tend to have a lot of fungus growing on their bark)

Here's what I'm doing thus far:
- Bringing in TONS of organic matter via wood chips from local tree companies.
- New plants are heavily mulched with wood chips to hold in water and bring added organic matter. Worms now abound in these areas.
- Soil testing ... this is next. I want to know what's wrong, specifically, with the soil (aside from the obvious)
- Considering building swales/water works to make sure there is enough water in the forest garden area. Without a top covering the ground does dry out fairly fast. On the flip side, it rains frequently in my area ... so not a huge problem right now.
- Based on soil testing, top dressing the area with fertilizers ... perhaps manure of some type (will need to look for local sources)
- Since the soil is shallow, considering bringing in loads of top soil. I figure trees will do much better if there is at least 6 inches of decent top soil on top of the 6-8 inches of clay that exists right now.

Any input you all have is GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks,
Stephen
3 years ago
Great topic! My family is on a whole food plant based diet and feel it is very much compatible with the permaculture concept. On our type of diet it becomes possible to grow closer to all of your food yourself ... And since minimality processed food is emphasized in our diet, we would have a rich source of everything we need out in the garden. My goal is to have animals ... Not to eat but to perform working capital to the farm (pigs and ducks to clear land, dogs to protect the forest, cats to keep the rodent population in check, etc.

Also I echo what Joe said here ... Paleo doesn't have any real scientific value. It's just another fad diet. Eating the plants and fruit you grow ... That is here to stay!
3 years ago
Maybe I should ask this in the tree board, but should I try starting root stock from seed? There's a company that sells southern heirloom fruit trees down here and I was going to order from them since they might be more locally acclimated.
3 years ago
The spirit of it is that if you prune you will always need to prune. Here's a good related post on this: http://www.permies.com/t/11230/organic/pruning-fruit-trees-hear
3 years ago
I've gotta ask though ... In the one straw revolution the author talks about letting the trees grow naturally without pruning. Had anyone tried this approach? Maybe wouldn't work as well with dwarf or super dwarf?

Cheers,
Stephen
3 years ago
I'm thinking of planting with heavy wood chips covering around the trees ... Adding more reach year to build organic matter as they break down.

The problem with doing an experiment is that it may take years to find out how they do ... I've read that apples don't like wet feet an am worried since other trees don't do too well nearby ... It's a big risk. I can only plant them shallow.
3 years ago
Has anyone tried using a drip watering system on a hugel bed? I've read that especially the first few years it may need supplemental water.

I was thinking of adding wood chips on top to reduce the need to water during the first few years ... and to protect the soil.

Thoughts?
3 years ago
Hi All,

I'd love to plant a few fruit trees on my property but my soil is troublesome ... it does not drain well, is shallow (6-12 inches before hitting shale/rock) and is heavy red clay (you could likely make a pot out of it no problem!).

What do I need to do to plant fruit trees? Create swales or hugels and then plant on top? Bring in tons of dirt? Plant something that will add organic matter and rebuild the topsoil?

In case its helpful ... I'm in Nashville TN ... where I'd assume much of the soil is of the same type.

Thanks!
Stephen
3 years ago
So I believe this is my first post here. I've enjoyed reading all about permaculture and we have now officially taken our first (baby) steps into using some of this for our own garden.

After we moved recently onto a property in Nashville, we discovered that while we aspired to growing most of our food on our own land (we have almost 4 acres) the dirt is a dense clay and is only about 8-10 inches deep in most places throughout the property. So we decided that if we can't go down, we must go up instead.

We built our first hugelkultur bed right outside our back door over the last few weeks, starting with wood from a tree planted back in 1901 (massive logs) and piling on some logs we inherited on the property that were partially decomposed. Finally it was a load of black dirt on top. We have a local tree service dumping piles of wood chips (as much as we want) that we are using for mulch on top. The Hugo's are around 5-6 ft tall and we are planning on building them in the shape of a concentric circle to get a variety of interesting climate zones.

But now that we have a few of these built we have another challenge ... what should we plant? Right now I'm starting with our seasonal garden needs and the traditional garden veggies but I feel like I should have a better plan for longer term on these beds.

Does anyone have suggestions on what to plant in the southern US Zone 6-7 where we live? Or even resources where I can find ideas?

Thanks!
Stephen
3 years ago