Wes Davis

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since Apr 09, 2018
Science Teacher, Hubby, DaDa, Californian living in the mountains of North Carolina.
Transylvania County, Western North Carolina zone: 7B
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Recent posts by Wes Davis

Sounds fun! I moved to a small mountain town in Zone 7B about a year ago and look forward to benefiting from your experiments :)

In the dappled areas we have done well by creating mounds (hugelkultur or otherwise) that face the sun.... and creative trellising. We get so much rain (with clay soil) here that we have benefited from installing small raised beds with repurposed materials or making mini swales and the hugelkultur things.

Those slugs are no joke, I am finding out. It seems like the shade creates the perfect environment for them to thrive on tender annuals.

Miner's lettuce, that might be an option?
8 months ago

R. Steele wrote:You're welcome Wes, and yes! Definitely move thar pear out of the juglone zone. There are some plants that can do well in the juglone. So if you want to have plants and or trees near the black walnut,  just make sure they are juglone tolerant. You can find lists of those tolerant plants online if your interested.



Update: Fortunately, I think I misidentified that tree. My neighbor's property has several Black Walnuts (we have one away from the garden) and I assumed this was also a black walnut. Whoops again.  

My neighbor came by and told me he was sure it wasn't a walnut and that it was a "willa"...which is local slang for willow.

It did leaf out much earlier than the Black Walnuts this year.

So, it looks like the Kieffer Pear is not in the juglone zone after all.               Unless, willows have some other toxin that I don't know about yet.... Cheers!






9 months ago
The leaves feel more "leathery" than crispy. Upon closer inspection, there appear to be little soft nubbins growing out of the stems of three of them. These stems are green...yay! One appears to have a tiny set of leaves that are just about to come out. We have had excellent weather the last few days so, hopefully, that helps them de-stress.

I attached some photos. Considering that they were on the Lowe's sale rack three weeks ago, then planted in a newly dug lawn-hole, and then repeatedly frozen.... I am starting to think that they look pretty good :)

I didn't think about the rootstock sending up its own shoots. Interesting. Adding more grape vines in case the others don't make it is a great idea. I wouldn't mind having too many grapes.

Thank you, again!


Hi Permies Folks -

We have several grape varieties (Reliance, Himrod, Mars, Catawba) and all were planted recently in a mix of clay-ish soil, mushroom compost, soil conditioner (the stuff in the white bag..Nature's Helper). I have not had the soil tested yet. They were planted in areas that were previously lawn.

Question 1: The photo is of a "bare root" himrod or mars from Lowes (dang $3 sale got me!!!). It was in a little baggy of soil and had a few leaves when I planted it two-three weeks ago. We have had a couple of frosts since then.
I am wondering if brown-leaves are normal this time of year or after planting / frosts. Do we need to make any sudden moves or should we wait it out?

Question 2: Three grapes (not pictured) were rather rootbound and sat in pots over winter (possibly not watered very well). These are the Reliance and Catawba. I was just wondering how resilient grapevines are. The roots have some green inside but the above-ground parts are pretty brittle and brown. Should we wait for leaves to sprout or start over with bare root grapes? Or something else?

(Interestingly, I have worked at a couple of wineries on the grape-crushing and wine drinking side of things, but have never tried to grow my own grapes for food. Being new to Appalachia, We are not sure what factors we should be considering, mitigating, etc.  We have done well with our other bare-root fruits, cuttings, etc...but are confused by these wacky grapes. As it is my family's favorite fruit, We need to figure this one out :)
Thanks R.Steele! That makes sense to me. We will wait to move the trees. I really appreciate the insight.

We watched our property for about 8 months before planting anything "permanent" but seem to have overlooked some pretty obvious stuff.

For instance, I just realized that we planted a pear tree about 18 ft away from a black walnut that is about 50 ft tall. In the juglone zone. (Pic attached) Whoops! It seems to be growing really well for now. I imagine that this tree should be moved much farther away for the long term.

Thank you for all of the help and info!





10 months ago
[quote = Susan Pruitt]
Hi Wes - I live in Piedmont NC with solid red clay (before I started sheet mulching     When you redo your asparagus beds be sure and dig as big and deep a trench as you can, and mix in a LOT of compost - asparagus prefers loamy soil and mine is still struggling after 5 years in the small clay trench I started with.  The foliage will indeed, grow at least 6 ft tall and about 3 ft diameter per mother plant, and flop over late in the season - it does get huge and a bit messy in a couple years.   I'd recommend a location off in a corner and near a fence so it can be tied up..    

As for your mulched circles under the pears, they don't have a huge canopy so your circles are fine for now, except it's a tighter mowing radius (that's a beautiful lawn that I'll bet the former owners spent a lot of time on haha!).   Your trees will thrive if you repeatedly add lots of woodchips and leaf mulch (twice as thick as I see in the video)  in a circle as big as the roots at least.   I started small and added a foot all around each year as they grew, and eventually created guilds around all of them - I like your idea of combining them into a long "island" across the front.  Have fun - you've got a good start there.


Excellent Asparagus advice. I didn't realize how floppy and big they grow. We have a long fence that might be perfect for them. I like the idea of expanding the rings each year. We found a mulch supplier so hopefully, we can thicken it up!

Yes, the lawn is really pretty so it's tough to dig holes and sheet mulch parts of it. I hope the previous owners don't find out  We have a toddler, so we do have to keep a healthy chunk of lawn for him

Thank you again for the local insight.
10 months ago

R. Steele wrote:

If you want more information on tree spacing, let me know your scion to rootstock selection. For spacing the named varietie is unless without knowing the exact rootstock.

Thats my best take on everything. I hope it helps!



Thank you for the information! I agree that having to hard prune each year is not a sustainable plan. I will definitely pay closer attention to what I am buying and the spacing.

I am not sure of the rootstocks. The Kieffer Pear was purchased at a community plant sale and I am pretty sure it's standard size. The Ayers and Bartlett are from Lowes and a similar store - they were on sale - I am pretty sure those are standard size. The suggested spacing is 20-30 feet on the Ayers Pear tag....whoops, I put it about 10 feet away from the other tree...maybe a little closer.
I suppose that we should move the middle tree sooner rather than later? It has been in the ground for about 6 weeks or so. Or is it better to wait until next fall/winter?





10 months ago

wayne fajkus wrote:Asparagus is too close.  Keep in mind it will last for decades and is the perfect perennial imo because its the first harvest each spring(and it lasts for decades). Mine easily take up a 6ft x 6ft square when they fern out.

Strawberries dont matter cause you can transplant the new plants to other areas.

Looks like you did traditional planting (same stuff planted in rows). I would encourage you to buffer each plant. Instead of grape, grape, grape do grape, asparagus, blueberry. When a bug invades a grape, make it harder to find the next grape plant.



Thank you, so much! I will move the asparagus away from the trees ASAP. They are sending up a single shoot each, but I assume it's better to move them now than to wait. I didn't know they grew so big! I guess it's time to perform another spring lawn-ectomy. I wish I would have sheet mulched last fall

Yes, for the grapes in a row, they are 8 feet apart and the thought was to add something - like blueberries - between each one - and then build a trellis that runs across the area to support the grape vines. It is a narrow mow strip between my house and the next..so the thought was that a grape trellis would look nice and create a living fence. We will definitely mix it up so that it's not all grapes.  Perhaps it would be better to spread them out all over our property instead of planting them in groups?

We have a row of trees (silver maple, cottonwood, and walnut) that run next to the pears and around the North edge of our property (walnut, Braford pear, hemlock?) . I suppose the end goal is to create a "woodland edge" garden that includes some fruit trees ( persimmon, paw paw), berries, vines, herbs, native shrubs (mtn laurel so far), and some edible annuals.

We truly appreciate the feeback and welcome any other ideas.
10 months ago
Here is a direct link to the video:  https://youtu.be/Lt8JxoUZ3_M .

I added one to the original post. I hope this one works. Thank you!
10 months ago


^^ video of the grapes and pear trees - April 17  direct link: https://youtu.be/Lt8JxoUZ3_M

Hi Permies folks, I am new here and also new to the clay soils of NC. And new to growing grapes and pears. Perhaps you have answers to these questions?? We are in zone 7B - North Carolina, Western Appalachian Mountain radius, 2200 feet elevation. We just bought this place and are working on setting up some different garden areas on our property (all used to be lawn). The pear-islands in the lawn might be connected soon (by expanding the rings and sheet mulching??) to create a forest-woodland-garden that separates our house from the road.

I have been posting some updates on the youtube channel linked above. Any advice, tips, tricks, or well-intentioned rants are appreciated. Cheers!

Our Q's:

1. Are the strawberries and asparagus too close to the pears?  (they are within 2 feet of the trunk or so)
2. Are the pears too close to each other (we want them to create some privacy)? They are standard size, I think. (Ayers, Bartlett, Kieffer)
3. Will the bare-root grapes (by driveway, sheet mulched circles) recover? (Himrod and Mars)
4. Will the container grapes (Reliance and Catawba) that were transplanted survive? The roots seem to be living, but the above-ground parts are dry and woody.
10 months ago