Michelle Bisson

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since Nov 16, 2015
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forest garden hugelkultur trees urban
Quebec, Canada
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Recent posts by Michelle Bisson

Looks like you have an excellent plan!  You are using the resources that you have easy access too and that is in context to your growing situation.

I used shavings and they do not blow about in the wind like loose dry leaves.  They interlock and form a mat which makes for good walkway mulching material.  I found that the fine shavings are less ideal for a mulch for the garden (unless mixed with bulkier material) since they form this mat and then the rains have a harder time penetrating and runs off.  Mulches should be loose and bulkier to allow rain to penetrate and not run off.

1. Applying a layer of store bought bark mulch on walking areas,

If you want to keep the weeds down in the pathways, apply a thick layer.  I would choose store bought mulch that was not dyed.  If you have a lot of mulch needed, you can buy it in bulk from some speciality suppliers.  Make sure that it is organic and has not been sprayed upon.

2. Applying a layer of leaves on growing areas,

If you have access to lots of leaves, this is a favourite choice of mine because I can find it in large quantities already bagged up by my neighbours in the fall. Is is so much easier to find bagged up leaves in the fall than to fine a large source of wood chips.  I also get wood chips from the local wood lot what sells firewood.

3. Throwing some coffee grinds all over the garden, and

  It is hard to have enough quantities to compare with bags of leaves, but if you have them, then use them in the garden or compost them.  A variety of bio mass is good.

4. Interplanting some nitrogen fixers with my vegetable crops?

It can be hard to work with nitrogen fixers trees in a vegetable garden as the roots are usually in the way and likely the amount of nitrogen from the roots of these trees is not enough for the vegetables.

You could grow some herbacious nitrogen fixers in the vegetable patch, but it does take a lot of space that you might prefer for vegetable growing.  If you have  long growing season, you could grow this green manure (clover etc) in the off vegetable growing season and then cut it back into the soil just before planting your vegetables.

You could add compost at the beginning of the season.  If you have access to quality manure, then add that in the fall. 

There are many ways to get a good growing garden.  The key is not in one "perfect" method, but to do the method that works in your context and what resources/imputs you have easily available.

A few questions….

Can you give us more details about your project?  What is the square foot of your garden? What will you be growing? What are your objectives?

What materials do you have access to in large quantities in proportion to your garden size?  What are the on hand imputs can provide you with and what are the imputs you you have to bring (and in what quantities)?
Pollarding is a great technique to control the height of large trees or scrubs.

It is very common in Europe for various reasons such as pollarding the tops off for fodder, for height control in a hedgerow or individual trees, to have a continuous sustainable growth of new straight branches for firewood or just for the look.  The park around the Eiffle tower in Paris all have their tops pollard, I think just to keep a consistant look.

In North America since it is not too common, when we do see it, we think of it as unnatural looking and we think negatively about it.  But it can have many purposes. 

We once pollard a tree when we built a house because it was too tall & close to the house and we did not want to cut it down since it take too many years to get a mature tree on a residental lot. So pollarding it, we got to keep the mature tree at the height we chose (we still kept it fairly tall) but took down the dangerous branches.

A couple of the negatives of this technique is that one may say that it is un natural looking and the new branches may be more fragile to break at the point of where it was pollard. 

Like every technique, there is a place when it is appropriate.
1 month ago
Thanks for sharing so we can learn from this too!
1 month ago

so far I have taken 6 cuttings of birch trees.

I would be concerned about birch trees from cuttings.  They will grow into a good size tree (even though smaller than a large sugar maple) and these trees will never have a tap root since they are from cuttings.  This means that they will have a higher chance of uprooting in a strong wind storm.  You do not want it to knock down into your house.  But if you decided that you would cut them down well before they are mature in size, well maybe…. But plant them far away from doing any damage if they fall.  But most people will have a hard time wanting to cut it down once it looks beautiful, so I would be very hesitant to grow it in the first place.  Plus, trees from rooted cuttings will not have a long lifespan as one grown from seed.  

A friend has an apricot tree that I would like to take cuttings from to grow an apricot tree. The apricot tree was loaded, and the apricots have a good flavor. The tree is not watered.

Apricots trees are typically not grown to be large trees as most people will keep it pruned for harvesting size.  How well it will grow from cuttings will be an experience to maybe try, but I would not count on it success.  It can still be fun to experiment.  You might be able to take your cuttings and graft them onto another apricot rootstock.

I usually prefer to take cuttings from bushes, scrubs and vines that are known to propagate easily by cuttings.  Ex grape vines, currents etc...   Some plants are easy to propagate by cuttings others not so.

1 month ago
Can you give us more information about what you would like to accomplish?  Which plants are you considering to graft or plant rooted cuttings?
1 month ago
I have been planting hostas, strawberries and rhubarb under our fruit trees. 

I am expecting that one day it will be so thick with these plants and if I crush them while harvesting fruit off of the trees, I'll use the plants as natural live mulch material.  They die back when winter comes anyways,   Yes, some will get damaged, but I figure they are vigourous plants and will survive the beating & trampling during the tree fruit harvesting time and resprout in the spring.  I love using baby hosta leaves as an addition to salads & soups.

If you want your husband to keep harvesting the fruit off of the trees, then don't worry about what gets crushed.  You do not want to discourage him from doing anything in the garden in fear of "destroying" your plants.    Whatever gets crushed, then just use them as chop & drop material.
1 month ago
Oh, very very tall, so it will be a major job to cut them down if the neighbour decides to cut them down.  I would let them know once a year of your offer to help take them out.  You could offer to replace them with fruit trees hedgerow (for privacy) just on the inside of your property line and share the fruit with them or share or pay for a fence for privacy.  They probably like the privacy and are in no rush to cut down the trees.

In the meantime, you could grow some plants that like shade.  Not knowing your ag zone and whether you are in a dry or abundant rain area it is hard to suggest which plants will grow.  The plants may not like to the soil around the cedar so you may need to bring in some other soil on top of the ground soil like a raised bed.

I live in a northern zone so I plant hostas in the shade.  Young hosta leaves are delicious in salads or soups like spinach.  They make great chop & drop material too.

In a food forest, in the shade of the cedars, you could set up a small bistro table & chairs so you can relax from time to time with a cup of ice tea.  Or you could use this space for a garden nursery & work with large wooden table.
1 month ago
You might offer to trim the cedar hedge.   You might end up being able to trim more than originally planned with their permission once you start.   And you keep the trimmings for mulch

If the cedar hedge is old and the inner needles have died off, you cannot trim back to this.  You need to keep some of the greenery so that there will be regrowth.  If there is no hope for serious cutback, then you might like to rethink this space and use it for other purposes ex. shed, water harvesting tank etc...

If the the hedge is partly on your property , then you have the right to keep it trimmed back.
1 month ago