Ellen Stewart

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since Apr 05, 2016
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Recent posts by Ellen Stewart

Dave Jacke and his team will be teaching a Forest Garden Design Intensive at Heartwood Institute on June 24-July 3, 2016.
Heartwood is offering a discount to those who refer 'PERMIES' in their application. We still have slots open, and scholarships available but time is running out to sign up!

Below is
Tree Planting Basics by Dave Jacke

Basic Steps in Tree Planting: I planted some persimmons at my place the other day and thought I'd share some photos of the process.

First step: decompact before planting! My soils were/are very compacted down at least 6 inches. A Meadow Creature broadfork is one of my favorite tools for dealing with this!

Second step: I added soil amendments to the decompacted soil surface and watered it in. The soils here are very sandy and poor in organic matter! I will effectively add to the topsoil by topping off the decompacted zone with several inches of compost. Mineral fertilizers should go in the mineral soil layers, and organic fertilizers in the organic soil horizons. Hence, on my soils, I usually only put mineral powders at this stage because I want to add other stuff into the compost layer.

Meanwhile the tree has had some time to soak in a bucket of water with seaweed emulsion added. Seaweed has lots of trace minerals and growth hormones that help this bare rot tree overcome transplant shock and grow healthy roots. I want to charge the root structure with these minerals and hormones by letting the tree soak for a few hours. Do NOT use seaweed with fish emulsion! Fish has too much nitrogen, which will stimulate shoot growth. I want to stimulate root growth!

When I am ready to plant the tree, I inspect the root system (for bare root plants). In this case, one root had a major U-bend that would, as the root grew in diameter, eventually constrict itself and cause that branch of the root to become ineffective or leave an entry point for disease organisms. I pruned that off. Also look for broken roots (leave a clean cut that is easier for the plant to grow over), crossing roots that you cannot realign while planting, and circling roots that will girdle the shoot or another root as everything grows in diameter. But don't take too much or cut too much! I try to be conservative with this. Also, note the place on the stem where the bark changes color: this is the root collar, the place where root wood and bark meet stem wood and bark. When planting is finished, this line should be lying at the top of the final mulch layer or just a tad below the top of the mulch. Noting the distance from that line to the bottom of the root system tells you how deep to dig your planting hole.

With the compost on top of the decompacted zone, I place the plant in the orientation I want to plant it in--in this case, because the tree is grafted, I want to align the surface of the graft away form the sun so it doesn't cook in the summer. Then I sketch out the shape of the root system on top of the compost so I know what shape hole to dig to fit the root system of the particular plant I am planting. Knowing the depth of the hole I need from the previous step and the shape of the hole, then I can dig!

Dig the hole, forming a mound for the base of the plant to rest upon. Add mineral fertilizers in the mineral horizons if need be, and mix or water them in. Array the roots, especially the lower tier, horizontally in space so as to maximize the soil area the roots explore. This step can save the plant much time and energy in arranging its roots itself, and will maximize the tree's chances of surviving drought and gaining the nutrition it needs. I usually backfill in "lifts" or layers, arranging one layer of roots, holding them in place with small amounts of soil, covering the whole layer with soil, adding some amendments (mineral or organic as appropriate to the soil going in the hole at that point--soil should go into the hole in the opposite order it came out, maintaining the original profile) and watering all that in to both remove air pockets from around the roots and to mix in the amendments.

Leave the soil surface in the form of a dish so you can water the *root system* easily. Shape the dish so that its outer rim is outside the edge of the area the roots now lie in. I water a lot while I am planting in an attempt to charge the soil in and around the planting hole with water. Storing up aqueous capital in this way helps make up for forgetting or being too busy to water in the days ahead.

I usually do not mulch right away if I can hold off. After watering the planting hole several times, one needs to check to make sure the root collar is not either exposed or too deep, either of which can kill the plant. In this case, settling did occur and I needed to add more material to get the root collar covered. Luckily, I planned to put cardboard and wood chips which would do that job nicely, and I did so a couple days after planting.
2 years ago

Sweet Cherry
Comfrey, thyme, and a local native called snake root surround this cherry tree. Thyme attracts beneficial insects and acts as an edible ground cover. Comfrey is a wonderful mulch plant. It pulls up valuable nutrients from the soil and makes large leaves that can be cut back and used as mulch. The snake root turns out to be a really great attractant of beneficial insects and can be seen covered in good bugs during the summer.


Plum Tree Polyculture
The plantings around this polyculture are mainly sun loving, though this will change as the plum gets bigger and shades the ground below. Violets, wild strawberry, anise hyssop, bee balm and green headed coneflower are some of the plants. Some are edible, various wild strawberries will produce a small edible fruit and violet leaves and flower can be eaten. The coneflower, bee balm and anise hyssop flowers will attract beneficial insects to the garden that can help control plum tree pests.


Multiple Dwarf Fruit Tree Polyculture
There are four fruit trees along the top of the slope here. They are planted with helpful understory species. From what I remember, chives, French sorrel, echinacea and comfrey support hte fruit trees. Chives and sorrel are both edible, comfrey is a fantastic mulch plant, accumulating valuable minerals from deep in the soil and echinacea is beautiful, medicinal and attracts beneficial insects


Peach Tree Polyculture
This is my favorite! It still needs some more understory plants, but shown are wild columbine, chives, yarrow, garlic, and maybe milkweed. Wild columbine is a pretty addition to a fruit tree understory, especially when the fruit trees are bigger and cast shadow. Wild columbine thrives in shady spots and is delicate yet holds its space, adding color and suppressing weeds. Chives and of course garlic emit that wonderful garlicy/ oniony scent that can help to deter some garden pests. While yarrow attracts beneficial insects, is medicinal and accumulates valuable minerals.

Join me, Juliette Olshock, Seth Nyer and Jonathan Chen at "Edible Ecosystems Emerging: A 9-day Forest Garden Design Intensive" at Heartwood Institute, Garberville, CA June 24-July 3!
The course is a total blast and a deep, engaging, multifaceted immersion into both theory and design practice! We have a growing cadre of graduates who tell us the course changes their lives and their way of understanding and doing design and forest gardening. We'd love to have you join us! Scholarships are available. Visit: http://www.heartwoodinstitute.org/programsevents/forest-garden-design-intensive-course for more info.
3 years ago
Chris! I was just about to post a bit from Dave Jacke about fruit tree polyculture and ground planting when I saw this. You should definitely come to the Forest Garden Design Intensive course this June!! It's in Nor Cal at Heartwood Institute. We have scholarships available and with this style of course you will get to ask questions specific to your lot, climate, etc. We would love to have you here and to know more about what you are doing!
Also, stay tuned cus i'm about to post that poly culture thing
Best,
Ellen

Course Link
Heartwood
3 years ago
If you wanted to be the designer, or if you want to make the best decision about who to hire, Dave Jacke (author of Edible Forest Gardens) will be teaching at Heartwood this June. The course he is teaching will give you a solid foundation for understanding Forest garden design. Having knowledge about it could definitely help you choose a designer - if you would still rather someone else implement it, though you could potentially do it yourselves! I will attach more info about it. It would be great for helping you manage so much land! Forest Garden Design Course
3 years ago
Hey Joseph,

You should visit us at Heartwood. We are on the west coast, and the experience would be worth your while. We are a new-ish sustainable living center with permaculture, culinary and the arts as our focus. Also, we have the best of the best, Dave Jacke, coming in July to teach Forest Garden Design. The Course will give you knowledge on how to start your own Food Forest, and if you're learning at Heartwood you could get an idea of how we operate as an organization as well.

I'm very excited for you to start on this journey! I hope that you will be able to visit us, and let me know if you have any more questions!
3 years ago
WOW!!! okay you seriously must come to Heartwood!!! This is incredible and are you doing this all yourself!!?!? Yeah, we would love your expertise out here, and especially while Dave is on site! Holy cow so cool, thanks for adding pics!
3 years ago
Hey,

Sawdust can be used as a replacement sometimes. In terms of growing perennials and shrubs it might not be your best bet because of how slowly it breaks down. It is also low in Nitrogen, so it won't help a ton with fertilizing, unfortunately.
If you wanted to use it for any fungus-related purposes, it would be great! Or if you wanted to sell or donate it to a nearby mushroom farm, they would love you.

As far as wanting creative ideas for a forest garden, you should totally consider a Forest Garden Design class with Dave Jacke! There's one coming up in July, it's a little far from you, but definitely worth the trip. Heartwood + Dave Jacke is an awesome combination. Here is a link to his upcoming course. I hope this will be helpful! would love to see photos of your garden
3 years ago
Hey Susan,
Craig Sponholtz is about to be on our campus (April 29) giving a course on water harvesting & erosion control. If there's anyone to best help you with this for a long-term solution I bet it would be him. Here's a link to the course, and best of luck with your yard. What you're going for looks very beautiful! Would love to see more pictures of it Water Harvesting Course
3 years ago
Just out of curiosity- where did you find that wrap top in the photo?

Is it a scarf tied up funny or is that a top-style that I'm not familiar with?
It's gorgeous, though I agree, could be hot in the summer.

But in response to your question- I found a maternity sports bra at Goodwill that had never been used (tags still on) it was a Target brand. Merona or something like that. I wore it all summer with shorts & a loose, thin cotton tank. The straps were pretty thick but it was a good fabric for working outside in. Good air flow.
3 years ago


HEARTWOOD INSTITUTE - Garberville, California
APRIL 29 - MAY 1ST

Taught by Craig Sponholtz of Watershed Artisans

How To Read the Landscape and Design Successful Water Harvesting and Land Restoration Projects

Increase your working knowledge and understanding of the complex and dynamic natural processes that shape landscapes and ecosystems. Use that information to develop a holistic design approach to water harvesting, erosion control and land restoration projects.

Course topics will include:

Understanding watershed patterns and processes

Watershed hydrology
-Sources and sinks of runoff in the landscape
-Erosion processes caused by runoff
-Gully formation and channel incision
-The erosion and deposition balance
-Reading the landscape to make informed decisions

Landscape assessment framework
-Recognizing the symptoms and causes of degradation
-Identifying regenerative processes
-Understanding land management influences

How to heal degraded land by harvesting runoff
-Regenerative design principles
C-ontrolling erosion with natural processes and materials
-Water harvesting earthworks

To learn more about this course, or to enroll, please visit our program page Here

To learn more about Heartwood's commitment to the land, visit our Website
3 years ago