Josh Garbo

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since Jun 01, 2018
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forest garden fungi urban chicken woodworking homestead
Skills: Tree planting, felling, wood splitting, seeding, coppicing/pollarding, bulb-planting, clearing brush, creating fells, simple raised beds, tree ID, woodland modification, 12V camper van solar design and build.
Interests: Woodland management, naturalizing muscovy ducks into wild, coppicing/pollarding, commune construction, Floyd VA ecosystem.
Learning: Raised bed construction, general home-building, European, Jewish, and Native American folk religion/spiritual practices, Python coding, data science math/stats/linear algebra.
Want to learn: pond-building, earthworks, grafting, mycology, laser level work, creating earthworks in a forest, strawbale and wofati construction, co-living/commune design guide, geospatial design/imagery/lidar/contours.
Zone 7a, 42", Fairfax VA Piedmont (clay, acidic, shady)
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Recent posts by Josh Garbo

So far, have done well with four Hardy Chicago figs from a big-box store; planted them in Spring 2021 and they survived our winter outside with no protection (albeit in a sunny area near my house).  One of them even got to 9 ft tall last fall and tried to produce figs, though they didn't fully form.  I believe it got below 10F on at least a few nights here during mid-January.  Unfortunately, a Brown Turkey I planted in summer 2021 from Monticello did not survive the winter.  In Monticello they grow on a very sunny and rocky protected micro-climate, which may get more winter sun than my house.

Also have had success this Spring in rooting fig cuttings from a neighbor's tree.  They weren't sure what species it is, but presumably something very hardy, as it's over 15 ft tall.  These got a small cut in bark to expose the cambium, dipped in water, dipped in a powdered root hormone, and then put into potting soil (into a hole poked first with a stick).  They have done great with occasional watering, and moved into the garage during a few nights of 25 degree lows.  These were all cut and planted on 20 March.

This year I've also started three small figs from Edible Landscaping in pots - a Celeste, Conadria, and Long Island.  Not sure yet if I want to plant these permanently in the fall or take them inside for the winter.
2 months ago
I manage about an acre by hand with N-fixers like autumn olive and black locust, and have quite a few bradford/callery pears coming up that I graft over to edible pears.  With more acreage, that's going to be harder to do by hand.  Can you put up a cheap deer fence with paracord, tree posts, zip ties, and deer netting?  I used those (along with with welded wire) to up a cheap fence over about 1000 ft.  So far, I've been able to trim up the black locust and do chop/drop with the autumn olive fairly easily, using a push mower a few times/year to keep the thorns down and promote clover.

You might be able to minimize mowing by planting your fruit/nut producing in lines (perhaps on contour), and then brush mowing around them, leaving corridors between your tree lines that can be allowed to come up with what's in the seed bank.  You could rake up the clippings as mulch around your trees.

Or you could just let it go wild for a few years, and then see what came up, mowing strategically to preserve the trees you want, and then adding your fruit/nut trees where they make sense.
3 months ago
You all inspired me to buy a few hundred Malus Pumila seeds from Sheffield; plan is to plant them naturally throughout the yard to see if any good genetics some up in a S.T.U.N. situation. I already put a bunch of Malus Sylvestri in potted buckets this fall, and will grow them this year in a protected situation with good soil.
5 months ago
I know Akiva Silver from Twisted Tree Farms has also looked into breeding some big ones, but not sure how far along his efforts are.  There's a tallish one near me in VA, about 40 ft or so, that has a lot of light competition from nearby oak trees, so has grown fairly tall.  The fruit is not very good, though, and it is very matted/un-pruned.
5 months ago
I've tried to start these seeds in Virginia in the wild - just buried into the soil, without any prep.  Didn't work so well.  I was hoping it would be as easy to propagate as Autumn Olive, but perhaps it does better in colder climates.
6 months ago

Just wanted to share this from Sean, who appreciated the award, but also wanted to support a more diverse group of permaculture leaders.
10 months ago
Living Energy Farm, in Louisa, VA, has done a lot of straw-bale near Richmond.  My understanding is that it works fine in this climate as long as you cover it properly above and below from rain/moisture.  
10 months ago
Not sure if my timing with Autumn Olive was ideal - if it doesn't work, I will try again next spring just before the plants starts leafing out, so maybe mid-March.  Also will try to collect more seeds from local bushes here and maybe buy some at Sheffields.  I've noticed the birds plants quite a few around here.  And it seems like the Autumn Olive do better in my poor soils than the Black Locust; may be an ideal N-fixer for clay, acidic, poor former closed-canopy wooded areas I'm trying to convert into savannahs.
1 year ago
I didn't know you could plant Black Locust by cuttings!  Just pruned a bunch of mine with chop/drop; will have to try to plant the cuttings next year with rooting hormone.  I'd probably try mine later than January, though I'm glad that looks to be working well for you.  I also am trying to propagate Autumn Olive by cuttings this year; will see how that goes.
1 year ago
You could consider having Black Locust as a N-fixer for your woodlot, interspersed with your food-producing trees.  Are you converting an existing forest or grass-lands?  The only problem I can see with incorporating woodlot with food forest is that you could damage your food-producing trees when felling trees.  Maybe a coppiced/pollarded woodlot?
1 year ago