Jay Plant

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since Jun 19, 2011
NW ontario
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Recent posts by Jay Plant

Thanks a lot! I still have ways to go but im really close to all the main work being done other than some spring and fall upkeep. Heres a pic from July of last year:

5 years ago
I started the yard in 2009, with a weigelia and some day lillies. Now I am in year 6 and I have 16 trees and about 130 species in total in my small urban garden. I have Apples, pears, plums, cherries and more fruiting trees in various stages of maturity, as well as seedlings of experimental trees like Carya ovata and kentucky coffee tree. I also experiment with Bamboos and other hardy exotics. Up here in NW Ontario, we arent known for growing many things but the more I see what I can get away with the more I am surprised.

My goal at the beginning was to grow as much food in the city with as little work as possible. I also wanted to limit the use of chemicals. Now it is more of a crash course of the many fields of conventional gardening and permaculture skills. I have always loved plants in general, but due to researching the yard and plants I have become a lot more aware of what is growing around me in the city. Plants and trees that I used to walk by and wonder at are now identified. For instance, there is a 20 foot Amelanchier just down the street or comfrey growing prolifically along the river banks. IT has opened my eyes to insects and birds and other animals that all interact in the yard.

It took me about 3 years to expand all my growing areas to the size they are now. I understand that one of the first rules to permaculture is planning in the present and for the future but I ended up expanding bit my bit over those 3 years. I never got a chance to fully sheet mulch and eliminate grass (I am planting over lawn). There are some "unruly" areas in the beds but I really wanted to see what came up after disturbance. One bonus is some nettle popped up in a few places. Dandelion also came up profusely in the first 2 years, but have now dropped to such low numbers I dont even worry about them. The main problem is ground ivy. Now that I have a great idea of what will come up and where, I am finally going to do a decent sheet mulch this year.


A short list of plants is as follows: Seedling and Honeygold apple, Toka and seedling plum, Grafted flemish beauty golden spice and john pear, Evans Carmine Jewel and Juliette cherry, seedling apricot, seedling hickory, Himrod Valiant Kay Gray Flame Niagra grapes, saskatoon berries and dozens of ground cover plants like comfrey, yarrow, strawberry, hosta, sages and about a dozen herbs. This year I will be planting Norther Red Oak acorns around the area, and planting some Manchurian Walnuts. For nitrogen fixing trees I have a Quicksilver russian olive and a honeylocust (which does in fact fix nitrogen, just in a different way then what is normally classified). I also have a 5 year old clump of Phyllostachys areosulcata alata which survived with no protection this winter (top killed but green culms about 5 inches up ) dispite a low of -32C. A small clump of Fargesia nitida survived as well. I also some how managed to get a needle palm to survive here last winter!

By now I am sure you realize I have way too many trees for such a small area. Again I wished to experiment with space and so far things are doing ok. I am prepared to have to eliminate trees if need be, but planted doubles of each just in case I need to graft some branches over ( two kinds of pear, two kinds of apple etc). I plan on doing this with my russian pears.

This year I need to fill in some spots with some small shrubs for food insects and nitrogen fixation as well as some low sun/shade ground covers to finally fill in all the spaces.
5 years ago
thanks for the.suggestions.

I managed to find a skyline honeylocust. they grow with a strong central leader and can be coppiced very well.

I also forgot about the native false indigo.

redbud is not hardy here and despite what some say.there.is absolutely no evidence suggesting that they fix nitrogen.

thanks for the.tips
6 years ago
Zone 4. Alder is native here as well, they are just hard to find in nurseries and get massive for the most part.
6 years ago
I am growing what I call a mini food forest (basically a tree filled urban kitchen garden). I am using many herbaceous nitrogen fixers like lupine, clover, peas and beans for ground covers for a consistant supply of nitrogen and organic matter. I am aware that N fixing shrubs and trees are a much better source. The only one that seems to be best in my mind is Caragana, but I am trying to stay away from having so many of one kind.

I do have one "quicksilver" russian olive in the back corner of my yard. This is helping the surrounding bamboo, roses plums and other plants around it. So far it isnt suckering, which is why I am trying to stay away from seedling russian olive. I could strike some cuttings but again I am trying to limit the amount of same species/type trees as much as possible. I was tempted to get a honeylocust cultivar. They are around 60 bucks but I am not sure if honeylocust fixes nitrogen (I know there is more evidence against black locusts ability to fix nitrogen but an unaware of honeylocust). They also tend to become pretty big, and I am being very selective of tall species since I dont have much space to work with. I could chop and drop them to control the size.

I was going to get some sea buckthorn but decided not to due to what seems to be a relentless suckering habit. I also thought about alder, but am aware of how massive they can get.

Anyone else have any suggestions? The above is all that I can think of.
6 years ago
A few years ago I started experimenting with urban permaculture. I posted one or two posts here regarding me starting.

https://permies.com/t/9571/permaculture/Permaculture-NW-Ontario

Now it is a full blown urban permaculture garden. My seedling apricot is surviving ok. My seedling apple and euro pear are doing amazing. Ive expanded the beds to about three times their size from 2011 and added around 100 species of plants.

A near full list of plants I have outside year round can be found here on my blog (which does need more attention I might add) but Ill mention some of the major ones.
http://canadianplant.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/complete-plant-list-2013/

On top of my seedlings and honeygold apple, I now have a toka plum, two evans cherries, John pear, golden spice pear and a seedling plum which was from a small yellow green plum I think was a greengage. I removed the blackberries but now have Jostaberry (which is way hardier then I ever expected), pixwell gooseberry, 2 tundra 1 cinderella and 1 honeybee haskap, 7 kinds of grapes (beta, valiant, himrod, niagra, flame seedless, some seedling volunteers and a new suffolk), hardy kiwi (which havnt done too much. This is year three. Theyre alive but dont seem to do much) and tons of strawberries. Mixed in are some mints, chives, flowers and clovers.

This weekend I will be grafting Flemish beauty scions to all my pear trees. Probably the best chance I have at growing European pears. There is apparently a hardy type that was apparently bred here called "Westfort" that I would love to get my hands on.

Everything is still young. Nothing has really produced too much. My John pear produced a few pears, but it is still young. My Honeygold produced two apples, but I am not sure if it is a maturity issue or pollination issue (I have no flowering apple trees in my yard but there are quite a few crab apples and a few producing apples in the block). The toka needs a good pollinator but I am so far not having luck finding any Prunus nigra, which the University of Saskatchewan states is the best if not the only pollinator for the Jap x american plums.

Its interesting to learn what can grow up here. To my knowledge there arent many orchards here, or any real variety of fruit trees that people do grow. I was surprised that there were two pears found here that have been shared off and on (westfort and highway61). This year Ill be experimenting with Kentucky coffee tree (which despite what some people say, it either does not fix nitrogen at all, or it does very slow), Shagbark hickory (carya ovata), Cornus mas and maybe something that catches my eyes in the garden centers.
6 years ago
Hey Katee

I live in the east end, basicaly 5 minutes from the mall.  So im as urban as you can get in this city LOL.

Fig trees survive decently down by toronto with a deep multch.  Using a raised stone bed would probably help lots.  Also, ficus caricia is recommended to be planted right next to  your foundation, even better for the zone pushers!!

How long have you been in the area?  There is alot of mixed information about the climate here.  It is really variable depending where you are.  For instance.  My aunt lives 20 minutes from my house, out on highway 11 17.  In november, we got a decent rainfall, only for my aunt to ger a few CM of snow.  My friend out in nolalu, got 2 inches of snow from the same storm.

The lake has a major moderating effect on the climate here.  If your 4 km from the lake you are generaly a zone 4.  You get past oliver road (going west/NW) you instandly drop one zone, to zone 3.    Nolalu is concidered zone 3.  My house is generaly slightly cooler then where the airport is (about 14km inland) in the summer, and the nolalu area  is hotter still.  In the winter, the areas closer to the lake generaly stay warmer and the further you get from the lake, the colder you get, and the more snow (could be a savior for your plants in this area!).  Its gorgeous out there, and there are tons of lakes, and small mountains to mess with the climate, so its really a matter of trial and error.  

If I had to guess ( ive looked into this a bit), the warmest place around here is on the sleeping giant penninsula (good luck getting land in teh provincial park lol), and the southern shores of lake superior.  I specificaly looked at cloud bay.  Its right beside the lake, tons of land, and is a good hour south of the city.  You wuld probably  have a better chance of getting a better zone down there IMO, but the land in nolalu is dirt cheap compared to down by cloud bay ( its a rich cottage and camp area).

The area where I would try to stay away from around here, is going west, to the lappe, upsala, raith areas.  This includes out on john street road and oliver.  This is where the coldest area of the city is.  I talked to a lady that lives out there, and she has trouble with some day lily species.  That alone is a red flag for how cold it can get LOL.  You want to stick as close as you possibly can to the lake shore here ( with in 8 km, but 4 or closer is the best) OR stick to the south of the city.

And ya, community sounds like your trying to make a cult LOL.  Lets stick to alliance lol.
9 years ago
Well most plants we plant are poisonous no?  Tomato, peppers, clamatis, figs and elephant ear are all poisonous unless they are cooked, or as in peppers/tomato, we can eat the fruit.

I havnt seen anyone mention WORMWOOD here.  TI was used for a very long time as a dewormer, and is hardy to zone 4.  A nice plant as well, and does inhibit some plant growth in a small area around it (so ive read), but ive seen it planted in proximity to tons of things.
9 years ago
I started reading up on permaculture last spring, and experimented with a few things last year.  I didnt really get into it untill this year.  I live up in thunder bay, way up in 48 degrees latitude.  The city is givin an average of zone 3a, but the city has a range from a cold 5 (some places) - about zone 2.  My house is in about zone 4.

I have a small yard to plant in.  About 60x15 feet, mabey a bit more if you add the other small spots.  There were only 2 owners of this house, and both of them were prolific gardeners.  So the soil was pretty good when we planted grass 20 years ago.  The amount of rain we get is pretty good concidering some places.  We never really have any drought problems here.

At this point im only experimenting. The only real long term plants I have are some peony ( the thing has been here for at least 70 years),  2 100 year old lilac, russian olive, honey gold apple, and a few things that im not sure will make it ( apple, and pear seedlings, as well as an almond seedling i grew )  I added Highbush blueberry (chippewa and blue crop), heritage raspberry, Chester blackberry, john adams elder berry this year.  Im hoping to grow some espalier cherry trees, as well as some apricots I grew from seed.  Im going to be experimenting with figs next year after |I get some cuttings.

Some annual veggies seem to do well here.  Radish have been solid for me.  Beans as well.  Ive seen some people  grow some great grapes.  Berries of all sorts thrive here as well.  Broccoli does alright.  Lettuce and spinach see, to bolt fast if sown in the ground ( first time ive tried both though).  Buttercruch lettuce did well, but it bolted before i could harvest the head lol.  Celery seems a bit slow, but I havnt amended the soil at all, and they needs tons of water.

A few experiments so far have shown I can grow some types of bamboo (protected).  I also managed to over winter hardy hibiscus (moeschetos).  Im going to experiment with a few things as well next year such as apricot, ginkgo biloba, dawn redwood and eastern redbud.

I do however, break one of the golden rules, by having plants i dig up every year lol.  Not a big deal really.

I have a few strawberry plants that are spreading as ground cover, as well as some newly planted spurge.  This year I have buckwheat as a nitrogen fixer, as well, as letting tons of self soen species grow such as dandelion, native pansy and clover.  Theres tons of things that managed to cover the soil, but I cant begin to identify it yet lol.  I plant lots of herbs liek cilantro, dill (self seeding here), oregano and chamomile, as well as beans and peas.  I have grapes, clematis and some annual vines liek Ipomia for the vines, as well as false indigo, various lilies, roses, wegelia and some others for the shrub layers.

Its been a great learning experience.  I have a better idea of yeilds now, and a better understanding of the concepts ive read about over the last year.  Im hoping next year will provide me with a decent first  harvest!
9 years ago
Hey!  Theres actualy some where around me lol

Im in Thunder Bay, and am starting to dabble in permaculture in my back yard.  I also started to collect seeds from plants around here.  So far I managed to sprout a few silver maples, and have some amur, and norway maple seeds too.

Its hard to grow some things here.  THe zone rating here ranges from a cold 5 (in places) to a zone 2 (by lappe).  Most of the area is zone 3.  For instance, the winter that just past, had a day where the airport recorded -37.8C, where as my house, recorded -31.8 (coldest its been here in  years).

Ive always been more of a, zone pusher.  I have 2 kinds of bamboo (real bamboo, Fargesia Rufa, and Phjyllostachys Aureosulcata alata), Hibiscus (survived last year), musa basjoo some elephant ears (i dig these up) and some others.  But now since ive gotten into permaculture, ive been focusing in creating a forest garden in my back yard (more like turn the backyard into a forest).  I now have a Honeygold apple, a pear seedling (for rootstock if it survives the winter), an apple seedling (same as the pear), a quicksilver russian olive ( 6 foot tree fot 17 bucks, how could I say no?), 4 highbush blueberry (2 types), raspberry plants, and black berries.

Im going to experiment with apricots, and even figs ( they will grow much like peony, die back and regrow, if protected well, thats the experiment there are more then enough cases of them surviving zone 5 with minimal multch to get me to try), as well as certain grape varieties (Himrod and Vanessa).

Glad to see someone else up here trying this
9 years ago