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Rene Poulin

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since Jun 02, 2016
Peace River Region, British Columbia, Canada
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Recent posts by Rene Poulin

Saskatoon are big here in western Canada.  Large acreages have been planted commercially.  Very drought tolerant but in dry seasons
Irrigation improves productivity and berry size and quality immensely.  The rust can be a problem that is hosted on Juniper and spread
To the Saskatoon.   You can graft pear Scions on to Saskatoon.  Some Saskatoon branches must be left to grow to keep the root alive
But the pear will be dwarfed and fruit earlier.   Also works with cotoneaster and mountain ash.  
8 months ago
Was this benchgrafted just before planting?  Turn the pot upside down and gently pull off the pot and examine the roots.  If roots are alive it may regrow.  If not it never was able to establish new roots.
1 year ago

Leora Laforge wrote:
Yep there is some great fruit around here. They are even working on grapes now.

You can get these varieties all over Canada and the US now. Cold and drought hardy plants. A lot of the fruit is smaller and more tart than varieties from warmer places, but they go great in pies!

They have also been exported to Eastern Europe.
1 year ago

Scott Foster wrote:

Wes Hunter wrote:

Scott Foster wrote:I guess the biggest concern I have,and the question I can't answer is why do apple trees have so many pest and disease issues that weren't around 200 years ago.  Part of it could be that I don't have enough biodiversity yet...same issue with the pollinators.  So maybe these issues will work themselves out with time.

The orchards around here are spraying millions of gallons of toxic herbicides and pesticides on the trees. What changed from the depression era and before?   The trees back in the day didn't get any herbicide or pesticide and they did well...if not they died.

I've got a book on my shelf titled "Orchard and Small Fruit Culture," copyright 1929, that devotes nearly 100 pages to controlling insects and diseases.  So they were around.

I don't know, but I'm going to hazard a guess that apple trees today aren't necessarily less resilient than they were then, but that apple culture has shifted and so more effort and emphasis is now placed on disease and insect control.  So what has changed?

It's easy to romanticize the past, but I think it's safe to say that the farms of yesteryear were more diverse than they are today.  When it was much more common to run livestock (poultry, sheep, hogs) under one's fruit trees, a burden was certainly eased.  Further, though the concept of production regions (e.g. dairy in Wisconsin, apples in Washington) is by no means new, I assume that particular regions were not as narrowly focused as they tend to be now, so that in apple country, for example, there was plenty of other agricultural production going on, thus mitigating some of the disease and insect risk.

I'd think another contributing factor is the increase in land prices.  Farmland is now not priced according to its productive capacity, it seems, but is valued as an investment or for residential and recreational concerns, in many places at least.  This then puts more strain on the farmer to make money, which could easily lead to a (desperate?) attempt to spray more in order to yield more salable fruit.

And then there are consumer demands for flawless fruit.  If you can't sell your apples because they've got a bit of scab, or a few indentations from insect bites, by gaw you're going to have to do something about it.

Anyway, I don't say this at all to dismiss your overall thoughts, Scott.  I've got a field of about 3 acres that borders my woodlot.  Over the coming couple years, my intention is to plant it (primarily) to widely spaced seedling apple trees.  I figure I'll get some apples for eating, some for cooking, some for cider, and some fit only for the deer and squirrels, which will, in turn, become apples for me.  I set out about 20 itty seedlings last spring in another location, but they ultimately didn't make it.  Whether they got grazed, pecked, or just outcompeted I don't know, but next spring I'll set them out in a nursery bed first to grow for a year or two before planting out.

Thanks Wes!

I get what you are saying.  I would point out that most of the recent information we have regarding growing apples is based on commercial growers.  I'm not hammering Monocultural orchardists but I don't think we need to model our permaculture or food forest efforts on the same information.  We want stuff to taste good or fit the nitch we want it to fill.  Picking apples primarily on how they look and how long they last aren't necessary.   If you wanted to sell say a Russet Apple that's not very appealing to the eye but tastes like ambrosia you would have to educate the customer.  Here take a bite.

 When we talk about creating genetic diversity in an apple, the tree and the pest do the dance of natural selection.  The Apple tree and the bug change over time in order to counter the's constant.  What we have done is clone and reduce our apple yields to basically two strains.  By only cloning, we aren't allowing the apple to adapt.  I'm not saying there were no pests, I'm saying the man has come in and changed the game.   By cloning, we are not allowing the apple tree to evolve defenses.  The critter, fungus etc is still evolving.  

How are commercial apples chosen 1. Beauty, 2. Ability to get to the store in great shape.  Taste is the last thing considered when breeding.  I don't have any proof that we are dealing with a lot of disinformation because I haven't actually done it yet.  If I base my assumptions on why we are trying to implement permaculture practices, growing from seed makes a lot of sense.   Most of the new strains of apples that are non-GMO and are tough as nuts (Liberty Apple)  were found by cross-breeding with the apples from the Kazakhstan forests.   By cross-pollinating, planting the seeds and moving to a dwarf rootstock we can test an apple within 3 or 4 years.

I may be full of it.  We shall see.

Check out the video below that was shared with me...

When it comes to disease and insect problems,  I am not convinced that tree genetics is the biggest issue.   For a permaculture perspective on this see Micheal Phillips Apple grower and Holistic Orchard books.  They detail how and why a forest edge ecotype is the foundation of biological pest and disease control.  

Also highly recommend Micheal Pollans Botany of Desire for a useful historical perspective on the Apple.
I also really love Steven Edholms apple breeding and grafting Videos but regardless of  BiteMe ,   Micheal Pollan has still provided an essential perspective needed to see the big picture.
1 year ago

Briony Beveridge wrote:Hi -
Does anyone have any comments on his holistic spring sprays?
Isn't neem oil a bit mean to the good microbes, especially when cut with soap?
Is liquid fish the same as liquid fish fertilizer?

I have been going through Micheals books this winter and plan to work my way towards implementation this year.  Certainly Neem oil would contain anti- microbial and anti fungal compounds.  You have to sometimes kill some of the good along with the bad.  He talks about this in relationship to copper and sulphur.  They work well in organic systems but not completely without consequence.  The soap is needed to emulsify the neem so it will be water soluble to a degree. The neem oil has fatty acids that feed the arboreal food web as it breaks down.

The fish is fish fertilizer but Micheal makes the point many times that not all fish fertilizer is the same.  His choice is rich in fatty acids and amino acids. And processed in a specific manner.
I found the type he suggests at whiffletree Nursery ion Ontario.
1 year ago

Scott Tenorman wrote:I don't know how you northerner's do it!!!  Much respect for enduring the colder months of the year.

I was surprised to see the new shoot when I cut the dead growth off this week, and mulched.  It's the only plant out of a dozen or so that's putting anything off?  It's been fairly mild here this winter, but two weeks ago we did get into the mid twenties or so.

It put a smile on my face to see the new shoot yesterday when I was cutting the old ferns back.

I just watched a youtube video saying asparagus was grown in Egypt and was a staple of the Egyptians for centuries......I had no idea.  
Good stuff.

Asparagus is highly underutilized.  I don't need any seed because I harvest seed berries like that every year and give them away or sell them at farmers market.  
It is my most profitable crop way up north of 55 degrees.  I get six weeks of production with our short season here. Fresh asparagus sells itself around here.
I would love to try year round or as close as possible, production in the desert.  In Peru they just stop watering a field of asparagus to give it a dormant period on a rotation to provide cheap asparagus in the store year round.  Mexico too.   You can also just let the ferns grow long enough in the spring to recharge the roots and then mow down the ferns in late summer and water for a fall crop in shorter season areas.

Simone Gar wrote:Does any of your Elderberry bear fruit? I recently heard that non up here bear fruit (mine is too small to tell I think, it only flowers a bit last year).

Not sure if you mean my box elder which is the other name for Manitoba maple sorry for the confusion.
2 years ago
I am in northeastern BC Peace River region zone 2b.  Live on an acreage in th e Rocky Mountain foothills, clay soil, forest land dominated by poplar.
Planted conifers like white spruce, lodge pole pine, Siberian larch, Scots Pine etc.  Have some paper birch, lots of willow and alder.  Planted Caragana, green ash, Box elder, Burr Oak, and mugo pine.  Fruits include 6 types of apples, 7 varieties of  cherries, Raspberries, Saskatoons, strawberries, honey berries, grapes, black currant, gooseberry.  

This year I have ordered pears, plums, cherry plums and rootstocks to start a backyard hardy fruit nursery.  Vegetable wise I have excellent asparagus beds that are very productive, for six weeks first thing every spring.  Potatoes garlic and onions are excellent here as well as carrots, parsnip, oyster plant.  I sell surplus veggies at our local farmers market.  I grow corn only for myself as it is marginal, but tomatoes, pumpkin, cucumber and zucchini do pretty good.

This year I have a chicken tractor built for a handful of hens.  Some eggs would be nice but I want them to kill grass, weeds and bugs more than anything.  Like others have mentioned cold is a problem but dry conditions once it warms up are worse.  Live in a rain shadow with only a few inches of rain in growing season.  I have a well that cannot irritate as much as I would like, ponds that dry up, rain water storage tanks.

The best thing I have to combat drought is wood chips from deciduous trees.  The electric utility arborist contractor delivered several large truckloads to me a couple years ago and the transformation to my soil and trees and shrubs has exceeded my expectations.  I went out and bought a new chipper for myself, I was so impressed by how the moisture stays in the ground and the soil is improved.

Hope the OP makes the move to zone 2.  If you can find a way to make a living,  the climate is something you can adapt permaculture to with much success!  I currently bring in enough income from my garden produce to pay for the other food I buy.  I am satisfied with that because I have other income and most people I know have not even made it that far.
2 years ago
Yes raspberry can be very invasive, I have them too close to my asparagus. Now I have to plant raspberry in another area and kill off all the old ones in the asparagus patch. Don't let this happen to you😬
3 years ago