Cris Bessette

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since May 20, 2011
North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7B/8A
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Recent posts by Cris Bessette

Sometimes it takes time.

I've been plugging away with permaculture on my two acres for about 8 years now.   I've been admittedly disappointed with the results for the most part until the last two years when suddenly there is much improvement.

A lot of my property was a garden for a past owner.  The "till it to death and pour artificial fertilizers on it"  type of garden.   The soil was dead.  No earth worms, no organic matter.  I decided to start turning it into a part of my food forest, planted trees, bushes,etc.  then waited, adding mulch, nitrogen fixers,etc. either things didn't grow at all or just languished unchanged from year to year until the last year or so.  Suddenly this year things are taking off, trees have doubled or quadrupled in size in the last two growing seasons.  

I think basically my soil was just so worn out it literally took 8 years or so for it to rebuild to the point where things will grow.
I know this is probably more specific to garden beds, vegetable patches,etc, but my food forest essentially really started to take off when I decided to stop cutting the majority of the grass and "weeds".   My two cherry trees turned into a mini orchard of about eight trees because new trees sprouted from the far-ranging roots of the original trees.

A blueberry bush came up in one place I stopped mowing (must have been planted and forgotten by a previous owner of the property) .  Clover started spreading everywhere in an area with low fertility.  Five or more American persimmon trees came up and at least three have started fruiting now in the last year or so.

Basically when it comes to weeding/mowing/etc.  I look at the area and only remove that which might be invasive, use space or light I want for something else or something nasty (poison ivy).  
What uses?  Recreation, water for crops, water for fire protection, fish, mitigating winter temperatures for nearby plants come to mind.

A half acre pond should be plenty big enough for fish for a food source.  

As for types of fish, sorry can't help there.  Maybe check other ponds in the area?

What else do you need to know?  Read through this forum.  Pretty much anything anyone could want to know about
permaculture and ponds has been covered here, and there is a quite a bit.  
1 year ago
Mark, Lemon trees are the LEAST cold hardy of citrus trees, you'll need to keep it above 29F at the least.


I have Owari Satsuma mandarins in ground in my greenhouse, but they are hardy to around 22F, so there is wide variance between varieties of citrus.
(The only heat source is two incandescent light bulbs, one near each tree.  They are turned on by a greenhouse thermostat at around 35F.

Edit:  Some info on varieties of cold hardy citrus: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/citrus/cold-hardy-citrus-trees.htm
1 year ago
I have a small greenhouse I made out of used windows I bought at Habitat for Humanity, it's kept my in ground Satsuma mandarin trees protected for about 7 years or more now.
The greenhouse stays up year-round but many of the windows can be removed or opened for summer use.  When I take them off I just put them beside or in the greenhouse.
1 year ago

Tammy Farraway wrote:Prior to getting these citrus, I watered my houseplants like you suggest. The lemon and lime didn't respond well, so I changed how I watered them. They live indoors year round in the same spot, so pretty stable environment. YMMV.




It's a good idea to check the root balls once or twice a year regardless how you water to be sure the roots are in good condition.
I have had about 20 potted citrus plants and I lost a number of them to root rot because of watering more than they needed.
1 year ago

Tammy Farraway wrote:When our indoor lemon and lime trees started losing a lot of leaves, the research I found said possible causes were BOTH too little water or too much water, which was extremely frustrating to say the least!





The best rule of thumb I've found to insure that pretty much any potted plant or tree receives the right amount of water:

1.  Water the plant fully so that it so that water is coming out the bottom.
2.  DON'T water again until the top inch of soil feels dry.   Go to Step 1.

This rules out variations in pot types (plastic pots take longer to dry than clay) or variations in the water usage of different plants.
This also helps to prevent rotten roots from standing water in the bottom of the pot.

Watering on a set schedule doesn't make allowances for temperature or humidity, for instance watering every Wednesday in the heat of the summer might be just right,
but in the winter and inside, the plants usage of water will be less and you may end up with too much water and root rot.

BTW loss of leaves in citrus is normal when moved from indoors to outdoors or vice versa. The change in sunlight and length of sunlight triggers
this and is normal.  Once the trees stabilize they will regrow leaves.
1 year ago

Joe Grand wrote:Cris Bessette,
Do you have a problem with the seedlings take over, I have heard that it is invasive plant,  but I have had it for several years & it has not spread at all.
I was wondering if anyone else had a problem?
Can you share a recipe with us, thank you.




So far I haven't had a problem, but I mow and cut around the trees.  They will come up anywhere the fruit falls though, and I've had them roll down hill and start a plant
at the bottom.  They definitely could be invasive if you don't stay on top of maintenance. With one tree, that's not going to be a problem, I have something like 40 of them
so it's a bit more work.

With my hedge of them I plan to rake the fruit up under the hedge when these start fruiting.  

As for a recipe, the easiest way I've found to make jelly is to cut each fruit in half, and fill up a small pot part way, fill the rest with water and put on a slow boil for a while.
This leaches all the juice out and kills the seeds simultaneously.  Whatever juice I get, I use a standard citrus jelly recipe from then on.

Make sure the knife and pot you use isn't terribly important to you unless you have some acetone or some other suitable solvent to clean the sticky resin off.

As for the taste, trifoliate orange jelly tastes like a mix of lemon and gin.
1 year ago
my Trifoliate Orange hedge is averaging between 4-6 feet tall and total length is about 30 feet.  I can tell that within a few more years nothing will be able to get through it.


I have about 5 large mature trees that are covered with fruit right now.  

I'm still working on finding things to do with the fruit.  I've made jelly a number of times,
but it is an acquired taste (a bit of a resinous bite to it),  and cleaning up pans, spoons etc practically takes acetone to get that resin off.   I've thought of grinding the
fruit up and making incense or something like that.  
1 year ago

Dennis Bangham wrote:

Cris Bessette wrote:Cold hardy tropicals (or tropicalesque) that I've had luck with here in North Georgia:

Pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana), I've noticed no winter damage to these.


Cris,  What varieties of Pineapple Guava have oyu had success with? I am in North Alabama (Zone 7B) and want to try to grow these on the east side of my house. Would roots be a concern?
THanks



The truth is I have no idea about variety, I just ordered a few off the net somewhere (Amazon? Ebay?)  and planted them, it's been 5 or more years ago.   I'm pretty sure they stay pretty small as trees,
maybe 10 feet tall on average, so I don't imagine the roots would be big enough to damage anything.  
1 year ago