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Sonya Noum

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since Oct 27, 2015
Small garden
S.W. France
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Recent posts by Sonya Noum

That's great news ! I've planted a foxglove under my cherry tree, just because I love them and didn't know where to put it, didn't know they were "plant doctors" !

Concerning ants in fruit trees : (this is slightly off topic but sort of completely relevant too) .... we had ants every year in the cherry tree, busy farming aphids which made the fruit sticky, which was a bit unpleasant. So then we put glue round the trunk (this was before I understood about guilds and what they really do). So then we had no aphids, wonderful - until two or three years later we got cherry flies laying their eggs IN the cherries - so you'd get these big fat juicy GORGEOUS-looking cherries, and then - yeuch ! you'd bite into it and it would have fermented and gone off, because of the worm inside chomping away. Of course, we tried the traps and all that and guess when we stopped having problems with the flies ? Yup, when the ants came back. Everyone is so busy doing their job and it takes a while to realise ad learn to respect them and be grateful.
1 year ago
Thanks, I didn't associate each family with particular functions, but this way is much easier than considering each plant !
I've already got some kind of wild carrot in my garden which I just assume to be poisonous, but will be trying one of the beautifully perfumed ones like Sweet Cicely, or one  that's got a very caracteristic flower head : that way I can be sure I'm not mixing anything up !
I was thinking of limiting my onion family to chives, but if I could find something very shallow here I'd be interested. Actually, I'm not very good at onions yet, I never remember where I've planted them or know when to harvest them, and root veg haven't liked the clay soil that still dominates most of my garden (even if onion is not technically a root veg). Don't know many of the perennial vegetables yet but there must be some interesting oniony ones. I believe there are all sorts of garlicy things where you just pick the leaves. Daffs are great, all those poisonous flowering bulbs are all so nice to see at the end of winter (snowdrops !) and in the spring when we need perking up, and if they're better than oinions at protecting the fruit trees so much the better ! I was worried about chickens eating them after I'd read about that happening to someone, but I reckon if they've got plenty of wild food choices and plenty of unpoisonous flowers to eat they are less likely to go for daffs - they probably did it out of boredom. Also less worried since I realised most petals are harmless, even if the rest of the plant is poisonous.
As for asters, well I've always loved Yarrow which is mentioned a lot, so will see if it wants to grow in my now softer soil. But many people like dandelion leaf salad and of course it's got a great taproot.
But I think I still have more research to do - I didn't used to take any notice of families till I started growing vegetables, so it's not always obvious who's who !
I understand completely not wanting to fill up a garden with poisonous plants when it's a kids' garden - though I'm not sure it's possible to prevent any from growing. I think it's important to learn which ones are really dangerous, as in things we don't even want to think about, as opposed to those that will "just" cause vomiting.
1 year ago
... another option if you have the room to experiment is trees from seed - not true to the mother, but explored in permaculture - much is said about this topic on Internet.

Incidentally, whether you decide to go for seeds or cuttings or air layering or grafting, there are apparently many ways to slow down the growth of fruit trees other than dwarf stock. Called "Tree Management Techniques" in this article https://www.orangepippin.com/resources/own-roots, called "modern pruning" in the orchard I visited at my local fruit tree conservation centre (not quite the same thing), have a look around the Internet you'll see some of the options.
1 year ago
I don't have an answer to your question, just a thought about what I'm going to do next. I had a delicious but very old Greengage tree in my garden, next to it was a young wild plum which was no doubt planted by the previous owners to take a graft. I didn't know how to graft and kept putting it off till the Greengage was blown down during a storm, and dearly regretted it. Then discovered permaculture and started learning the all too numerous reasons for this or that choice. Now my very old and delicious Cherry tree is dying. I still haven't learnt how to graft but have just been reminded that I can reproduce it by AIR LAYERING. The main advantage compared to taking a cutting is that the daughter will have a well-developed root system BEFORE being cut off from the mother, & the mother will remain undamaged untill the layered plant is removed. I can plant my layered cherry and if I decide it's going to get too big for my garden, I can still graft it, even if the mother has died in the meantime. Or I can do both, and decide later, even years later, whether to keep one or both of my new cherry trees. In fact, it's my next job in the garden, and a friend is going to try to do the same for her delicious old Greengage tree, so hopefully we'll each have a delicious cherry and a delicious greengage !
1 year ago
ps I won't be planting onions or anything I'm likely to want to dig up to try to avoid too much root disturbance.
1 year ago
Yes I was a bit fazed by how simple and yet complicated fruit guilds seemed to be, and was getting overwhelmed by the quantity of stuff I was reading about them, so this thread is very useful. There's lots I don't understand, for example I didn't know the bulbs had to be in a ring, now I understand why they all say "in a ring", thank you !
 
I'll add my amateur contribution in case it's useful and/or needs correcting !

My first four trees are the most traditional, an apple, a plum, a cherry and a pear, and all rosaceae so if I understand correctly there is some crossover between what's beneficial to one or another. I won't be planting peach trees until I'm a bit more sure of myself, we pulled an existing one out because we coulldn't bear to see the horrible leaf curl which looks like someone's having fun torturing nature. I've bunged some stuff into their planting mounds, bulbs I wanted for spring jollyness and stuff I had in the garden, to be pretty if not known to be useful and fill up some space quickly and stop the cats from digging (have even added turf on the slopes for that, sorry trees you'll just have to wait till I can replace it with something cat-proof), and am deciding what to sow and add as the spring arrives.

Like you I've listed plants I've seen suggested or used under each kind of fruit tree, starting with apple because it's the most documented. So then I've put that list into a table with their guild functions in columns, and for each suggested plant I'm trying to tick columns for different functions it performs. I've done a "nbval" in another column which allows me to see how many functions each plant performs (which helps me to understand why Comfrey is so popular !). Then I'll be able to see which functions are missing and which plants I can be choosy about. For my own reasons I've made more categories than are listed above, they may be of some interest to you :
- Pollinators (nectar and or pollen)
- Birds / Insectary - auxilliaries
- Repellant / confuses
- Sentinel (not sure what "sentinel" means - maybe underground "repellant" or maybe plants like nasturtiums that attract unwanted creatures away from our fruit trees ?)
- Nitrogen fixer
- Other dynamic accumulators (I separated this function because I'm going to need more than just nitrogen fixers - even if there's some doubling up with "mulch" or "taproot")
- Grass suppressing - aleopathic or groundcover
- Mulch
- Decompact / Tilth
- Tap root (specifically)
- Edible or medicinal
- Chicks (edble by or otherwise useful to my future chickens if not to humans)
- Windbreak
- Evergreen hedge /privacy

The last two functions are needed near my apple tree because it's near the edge of my garden.

(I'm also planning to check out some stuff on functions I saw online free for permaculture design, now that it will start to make more sense to me.)

I've added a few more columns to help me decide :
- "Family" as I know I want members of certain families under my fruit trees. For example, in Europe apples and pears are attacked by a moth, Cydia pomonella, so I know I want plenty of Apiaceae nearby to host some of their enemies.  I'll be planting something from the wonderful mint family too, though it won't be mint, which grows wild in large swathes here.
- Plants that have been observed as occuring in their natural biotope (via the impressive French "PermaforĂȘt" site http://permaforet.blogspot.fr/p/biotope.html)
- Plants that are aleopathic to them or otherwise undesirable

Then I'll choose according to where I want what, other plants, how attractive it is to me, light and shade and so on.

I'm bound to make some mistakes but it will all be a good learning experience !

1 year ago
This is actually a really useful thread, even for someone who doesn't have a "suburbia conformity / short timescale" problem. It gets one thinking ! Thnak you to all the contributors !
1 year ago
On another scale, in my wee garden, I twiddled around foolishly with my clayish soil (though I've got a great pH - about 7) until I discovered permaculture (tho it seemed to me at the time "too complicated" to apply a full scale design) and Lasagne planting (which was immedialtely comprehensible and applicable). I just layered on my lasagne material (= ANYTHING you can get your hands on FREE) and planted - in my amateurish way, knowing nothing really about gardening, with various success levels as to harvesting, but anyway, things grew. I add leaves from my street in the autumn, and grass clippings or leaves or wood "chips" or bark or whatever as mulch when planting, and compost for those who want it. What I very quickly became proud of was the way as the years go by the clay soil UNDER my lasagnes (or beds as they are now or mini-swale mounds as they are about to become) gradually turns into lovely soft loam, an inch or two per year, without me doing a thing (except disturb the soil to see, or usually to show others, what's going on). As I get my act together learning to grow vegetables and perennials, to understand the permaculture principles and begin to understand the needs and interactions of the living things I'm working with, and preparing for the (2) chickens I've been planning for years, I am able in the meantime to be delighted at the fact that my garden is busily growing SOIL.
1 year ago
Second hand.
I agree, at least foot square for normal eating, but if it's for giving a guest a piece of cake, the tinier the better.
The older they are, the better quality was the cloth.
Some of them are absolutely beatiful.
Some were hand made, when people really made fancy stuff.
Usually some will be stained.
You could colour them (as you seem to be interested in dyeing), or not buy them if they're not sold as a "lot", or use the discoloured ones as rags, etc.
You could add bits to them.
You could even sew two together with some insulation in between to make washable placemats.
It's fun going through all the beautiful amazing "old fashioned" stuff that  no-one wants anymore.

Enjoy your project. I still put far too much stuff in my bin (and plastics, yeuch !), but each new project which allows me to stop buying plastic or throwaway stuff or stuff that comes from afar or makes the monopolies richer is soOOO exciting and satisfying !
1 year ago
quote=Leah Sattler]...if you view wild cats for what they are...wild animals....its not so hard.[/quote]

Cats are NOT wild animals. They have evolved around humans since the beginning of agriculture 10 thousand years ago, when we started having a rodent problem. Ok, normally we don't breed them (except tralala cats which are a special case) and we didn't used to feed them much (catfood was not nourishing to cats till we found out about Taurine, in the eighties I think). But Felis catus is already a distinct species, different from european or african wild cats, evolved almost entirley from the middle eastern wild cat, Felis sylvestris lybica, with probably a few genes from elsewhere.

I'm not saying feed your barn cats enough to make them want to stop mousing, and I agree a good mouser will probably be taught by its mother. And I can understand that one must not be too sentimental when it comes to farm cats.

But that doesn't mean that your common or garden shorthaired tabby can be abandoned, or its offrspring abandoned, without unneccessary, inhumane and [b]human-induced[/b] suffering. That's why I don't like to see "cats are wild animals" on forums - I'm afraid it will induce innappropriate behaviour in humans. Cats have been around humans for a long time and are dependant on us.

I'm not a farmer but I've seen a barn cat teach its kittens to catch rats (in the farm kitchen). She was a barn cat AND a house cat. Not fed much, but given vetinary care. She liked humans and liked being petted, when she felt like it. And she was a good mouser AND rat-catcher.
And I've seen an urban feral mother start to teach its kittens how to mouse (before we took them away from her to go to their adoptive families). She was a good mother and would be a good mouser if we didn't feed her, even though from her behaviour she is probably only first generation feral.

So I'm not convinced it takes many generations of being feral OR being unfriendly to humans to be a good mouser.

If I had a barn and mouser cats I like to think that I would check that the cat and mouse populations were compatible. That I would give them essential vetenary care. That I would spay the poor mousers and give them away, and let the good one(s) reproduce once. That I would feed my cats kitchen scraps, which are an incomplete food for cats but otherwise good quality. That I would buy good quality cat food to complete their diet, in small quantities, rather than poor quality catfood in large quantities. And I would hope they would get the main part of their diet from mice.

I think the mouse traps are amazing.
3 years ago