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Coriana Close

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since Mar 08, 2016
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Memphis, United States
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Recent posts by Coriana Close

As I plan the next stages of my permaculture building project I am overcome with a feeling of appreciation for this community, and Jay White Cloud in particular. I have learned from so many incredible books, videos, and classes. I am grateful to many in the community. But, time and time again, when I need to understand historical foundation and structural building I find myself here reading the words of Jay White Cloud. Jay - I have never met you, or even spoken to you. But, your permies threads have been a huge inspiration in my life. More often than not, when I need an answer you have been the best source. I want to thank you for being a wise teacher and spending untold hours answering specific detailed structural design questions with experienced stories, beautiful images, and an open heart. Your research, experience, and life lessons have opened up the world of traditional architecture for me and likely many, many more. Whenever I read your words you provide surprising insight, and I desperately want to read your books. Thank you for your gift of knowledge and please consider writing for Chelsea Green.
I also want to thank Paul Wheaton for enabling this incredible internet forum which facilitates access to this essential archive.
If you too feel love and appreciation please add to this thread.
Thanks to all, and good luck building!

Amy Arnett wrote:I didn't think blueberries could get too wet. Ours when we lived in Vermont more or less lived in a puddle.

I agree it could be lack of chill hours, if Memphis didn't get could enough. If you know your varieties, you can look up their chill hour requirements. We have a bunch of varieties, some go dormant and some don't. They all have flowers.

One spring in Vermont, we had a lot of bad weather and gale force winds when the blueberries were blooming. Whole flower clusters were blowing away. We didn't get many berries that year. The bad weather also kept pollinators from doing their thing.

From: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/crop-production/berries/how-blueberry-plants-develop-grow

Rabbiteye and southern highbush cultivars need a pollinator for good fruit production. Flowers need a large number of visits from bees or other pollinators for good fruit and seed set....
Fruit set may be lower in regions that get a lot of rain or cold weather during bloom, which reduces bee activity.

Is is possible they flowered and lost the blossoms when you weren't looking?

Thanks for your thoughts! It is really nice to know that there is a community to help!
I have been home for most of the spring, and I spend a lot of time in the yard. So, I doubt I missed the flowers and lost them to the wind.
But, the chill hours idea sounds promising. I think blueberries max out at zone 9, and we had temps in the 60's and 70's for much of the winter with only a few hard cold spells.
The garden center with great berries has plants on the west side of an unheated greenhouse and fronted by larger bushes, with limited solar gain. They are also next to a wide open road and park.
I imagine that area is cooler than my small sheltered yard.
In the future I will look for varieties with the lowest chill hour requirements.
Thanks again!
2 years ago

Steve Thorn wrote:Sounds like some neat food forests that you have Coriana!

Were they pruned last year or recently, possibly removing the new shoots where the flowers would form on?

Steve, thanks so much for your quick reply. Since blueberries are my slowest growing plants, I don't think I have ever pruned anything beyond removing old dead stems.
2 years ago
   I have two food forests, this year the blueberries in one location are amazing  and in the other they are non existent. I have a small yard in Memphis and a much larger food forest 140 miles east in the Western Highland Rim. Memphis has been zone 8b in recent years, and the Western Rim land should be 7b, but has been 8a in the past few years. This winter was so mild in Memphis that many of my plants, including some elderberry, black berry, blueberry, goji, and passion flower never went fully dormant (this is an aside, but if anyone knows what that is called please let me know.) My trees in the Highland Rim did go dormant, but things heated up early and plants woke up early.
    About three weeks ago the Highland Rim land went down to 26, so all of the elderberries that had woken up in Feb. died back, I also lost my Indigo Bush flowers. But, now the Highland Rim’s wild blueberries are doing better than ever.
    My elderberries in Memphis did not suffer that hard late freeze and now they are huge and flowering. But, I have 6 blueberries in Memphis that have not had a single flower this spring! A garden center a few blocks away has bushes covered with berries already, so I don’t think I will get anything this year.
   Any thoughts about why the blueberries failed to flower this spring? The 5 different blueberry plants previously flowered for about 4 years, and each gave a small crop. Temperature could not have been the primary factor, because as I said it got much colder on the Highland Rim, and that land is teaming with blueberries.
    Could the issue be too much water? The berry filled garden center near my house has its plants at the top of a slope to increase drainage. My yard in Memphis is pretty flat with hard clay, so drainage is not as good, while my Highland Rim land has extremely well drained soil. So, perhaps they were too waterlogged during the spring? Any thoughts on the berries would be appreciated.
   As I cleared some brush in the Highland Rim last week, I revealed the best wild blueberry plant I had ever seen! It was tiny yet completely covered in flowers, while growing deep in the bushes. That made me wonder how much sun they really need.  Perhaps with time, and with your help, I can replicate that sort of natural success. Thanks all in advance!
2 years ago
I don't think lack of soil fertility will be your biggest problem. Actually the soil should be very fertile based on your description. The big problem I foresee is the currently existing seedbank. I wrote about this in a recent post here: https://permies.com/t/54409/permaculture/Plastics-Permaculture-Weed-Control
I attempted to plant into a recently deforested area without tillage. The result was a huge uncontrollable upswell of growth from the forest floor. This problem may be exacerbated by the fact that I am in the south. But, I fear anyone in a temperate region with high precipitation may face the same challenge. I would suggest attempting to kill what's there before planting into it. Possibly using solarization by covering the area in plastic and baking it. Or, even by covering it with a thick wood chip mulch. I haven't tried either yet, so I can't speak to the success rate. But, I do think that killing off the growth you don't want will consume more of your time than fertilizing the things you want to grow. If it is a small enough area and you live close then bi-weekly weeding may work. But, if it is a large area, that may not be the most feasible strategy. Since you are planning to plant veggies, chickens or other animals may do more harm than good. But, I would defer to those with experience with animal rotation before making a strong judgement on that.
I would greatly appreciate feedback from anyone who has had success controlling the undesired growth from overtaking the plantings in a recently logged area.
Good luck and let me know what works!
6 years ago
To use, or reject landscape plastic...that’s the question. I got the idea from Stefan Sobkowiak’s video The Permaculture Orchard Beyond Organic 1:27-2:10

Background Info:
Last year my family began working on a project in rural tennessee (zone 6 to 7) We purchased acreage that had been logged over the previous three years. It is semi mountainous (with some very steep sections) in a heavily wooded area. Our first order of business was to slow erosion. We planted a few hundred pounds of nitrogen fixing ground cover seeds in the areas where logging equipment had created big problems. We also planted three on contour rows of nitrogen fixing trees intermixed with fruit and nuts. That’s when we ran into problems.

We did not till the areas where we planted trees. Instead we cleared them by hand (getting hundreds of ticks in the process) We cleared land in the fall, early spring, and late spring. The focus was primarily on greenbriar, weed trees, and poison ivy. Little did we know that after all of that work the entire area would be covered by fireweed (see image). When I say entire area, I mean by mid summer it looked no different than the rest of the valley that we left alone. At least the fireweed covered the ground and discouraged erosion. But, the trees were completely overtaken by the annual’s immense growth. Also, to make matters worse the fireweed literally covered the entire valley in a layer of seed, so this year will be similarly weedy.

This spring we are at it again, and I could use some help in strategizing the best way to contain unwanted growth and support the growth that we do want. In a couple of weeks the bulldozers will come in to give us a road on the property. We are also cutting swales into the top of the mountain to increase water harvest. We plan to plant this spring only in the areas that we disturb (ie swales and road back cuts) I have ordered a host of nitrogen fixing and edible trees, shrubs, ground cover etc.

Now. I need to know: Should I put plastic on top of my swales to prevent the fireweed takeover? Or, is that a major permaculture sin? Based on the video link, laying down plastic can lead to significantly increased growth. However, I am not particularly knowledgeable about the Sobkowiak school of thought, and I don’t quite understand where nitrogen fixing groundcover enters into the equation.

Has anyone used plastic before? I thought of cutting a ring of small holes around the seedlings and filling them with nitrogen fixing seeds. Could that work? Even our ground covers (Fixation clover, birdsfoot trefoil) have had trouble competing with the native seedbank. Would, planting within holes in the landscape fabric allow ground cover a stronger start before spreading out?

If anyone has tried plastic, or has suggestions on dealing with fireweed I would love to hear any feedback. Thanks in advance for your help.
6 years ago
Old School Version
"Plant supplied 29 or 30 mines, cost almost nothing to operate and had no moving parts"

"Since it was built in 1910, Ragged Chute practically ran itself"
6 years ago