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

Which way is north?  You'll want to know which plants are mostly sunny, partially sunny and shade tolerant and plant accordingly.

To save work in the future of cutting grass, I would extend my garden between the trees as it would be so annoying to cut grass between your trees and the garden box. Unless you have a really good reason to have a raised garden box between the trees, I would not put in a raised boxes between the trees.

43 minutes ago
First, putting your design on paper / computer software is not a one time event.  It is a process.  You might go through hundreds of "designs" before you decide your route to take.  And it might be easier to design for smaller areas first then everything at once.

Remember there are ways to "harvest" water without earthworks, especially if you do not have the equipment for earthworks.  Mulch "berms" will help to slow down and sink in the rain. 

Try to choose plants, scrubs and trees that are more suitable for your climate.  You do not want to plant water hungry plants if you can not find a realistic way to harvest the water for them in dryer climates

The tiny "valleys" on the surface of the land will naturally get more of the run off, so then you plant your plants that need more moisture in those locations.

2 weeks ago
It depends what equipment you have to work with if you start doing terraces and mounts.  Since you cannot plant now anyways, use this time to observe and draw out on paper your design ideas.

2 weeks ago
I suggest that you first make a plan.  Put your plan on paper and then share it with us.

The issue of poor soil is not a reason not to start a food forest.  One can easily add much, straw, compost etc. around any young plants you plant to give it the nutrients it needs.   You need to make sure that the first couple of years that the plants have adequate water.  There are many water harvesting technics that you can do to help you with this.   Choose plants that will work in your climate and soil.  If your climate is dry then you would not plant water hogging plants or vise versus. 

3 weeks ago

On the other hand, since Iā€™m familiar with sheet-mulching & Hugelkultur, would it be best for long-term soil health & stability if I dug 12ā€ down, put a weed barrier, then a layer of pebbles for drainage, then a layer of branches/small logs of apple & maple wood, then some old leaves and compost, then dump 6-12ā€ of mixed soil on top, then some mulch?

Sheet mulching is a great way too.

"If" I dug down 12 inches, I would skip the weed barrier and pebbles.  The " layer of branches/small logs of apple & maple wood, then some old leaves and compost" would give it the natural drainage I would need, then I would put back the soil I dug out.  As it makes no sense to haul it away to be replaced with imported soil.  Then I would add some form of mulch, wood chips, leaves, any plant material etc.... whatever I could get my hands on.

Now digging down 12 inches is a lot of work so you have to determine if the plants that you want to grow really need all that effort.  Carrots yes, they would be very happy to have the depth, but most perennials have strong enough roots to root down if they need to and usually their roots grow on the top layers of the soil as feeder roots.  Now if I did dig down, then I would likely want to have large quantities of logs & branches to make my effort justified if I had access to that material.  On the other hand, those who do the double dig method, just simply loosening up the clay soils has worked wonders for a lifetime of thriving plants so one does not neccessay "need" logs & branches buried to have thriving plants.  And garden beds where I did no dig but simply piled on the layers of "mulch", the plants thrived too.  So if you have the energy and time, digging down in the soil has benefits.

If I have a garden bed area that is not urgent to plant in that season, I will pile layers of plant material & leaves, small branches to prepare the harden soil for the coming season.  The mulch layer will keep the clay soil workable and moist when it is time to plant.

Note: the reason I don't recommend a weed barrier as what does that weed barrier look like in a few years when all the roots are tangled in it.  Most weed barriers do not decay and are forever stuck in your soil tangled in roots.  I have seen it, and done it and have learnt the hard way.   This is not what nature intended.  Learning about permaculture as steered me away from this technic.  Adding a layer of pebbles 12 inches deep has no advantages.  If your soil is high in moisture then plant the kind that likes moisture or raise your bed 6 inches or so or on higher mounts to get above the water table for those plants that like less moisture.  Pebbles, either you go to the river bed to find them or you buy them.  I cannot see myself  doing either unless I really wanted to create a very small decorative rock garden for fun.
It depends what kind of plant you want to grow.  Some plants would prefer rich compost to grow in, and others would be quite happy in the clay soil enriched with a nice layer of mulch.  If you choose the more "exotic" plants for your region, than adding compost might be best.  But if your plants are those that are already adapted to your climate and clay soil then, relying on mulch is on top of your clay soil might be fine.  Or maybe a mixture of compost and mulch is the way to go for a faster boost to your garden.

Be careful where you source outside materials to add to your garden.  The more we rely on locally sourced material especially profiting from yard cutting "waste" to recycle into our gardens will ensure long term health of your garden.

There is more than one "perfect" method to gardening.  Plants often have a surprising way of adapting to it's environment, unless you really do have the wrong plant for the wrong location. ex. planting a sun loving plant in total shade.... or planting a plant that does not like wet feet in the flood zone of one's yard etc...

Hugelculture logs and sticks buried into the ground or mount will have long term benefits if you have access to them in abundance.  But not everyone has access to them in abundance.  If you have them, use them.  If gathering leaves in the fall is what you have in abundance use them as mulch.  Your garden will be more than happy with either method.  Other methods can work great too like wood chips mulch if you have them in abundance.

Please post pictures of the progress of your garden throughout the year.
After listening to the podcast I have a question about the rental reservation system.

Has the web platform reservation system been chosen?  If it has not been chosen, we have experience in this.
Some of the tree nurseries plant the seeds in 5 gallon bucket pails or large crate bins of loose soil/compost mix.  After a year of growing, they are still able to separate the roots.  This allows the roots to grow deep.

I would be hesitent to plant trees in paper cups or too small of containers because it might not allow the roots to grow deep enough the first year.

Depending what you want to do & the whys, it is still possible to plant directly in the soil where you want the tree to grow.  This is more of a hands off approach.  Eaither let nature take care of it or you make sure that it has enough moisture.

1 month ago
Hugelculture is a great way to control moisture whether you have too much rain or not enough.  At the bottom, put your rain loving plants and your more drought tolerant plants.  At the same time, consider your your plants in general.  If you put desert plants in your driest part of your hugelbed, it may still be too much moisture at 80"/year.  So in general, you will plant moisture loving plants adapted to your climate & soil type.
1 month ago