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pollinator
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I have a couple of perry pear trees in Washington (still young). From what I understand, and I'm no expert, you're supposed to use mostly sweet pears and a small percentage of perry pears, otherwise it comes out kind of gross. I have no idea if that's true. I was told a similar thing about cider apples. I've got two hendre huffcaps and plan on more, to preserve the genetics.

I'm coming out to Wisconsin to work on some small food forests in Ashland. I won't have much transportation but if either of you are around let me know! I'll be going to The Draw as well, to buy plants
 
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Cool, when are you coming to Ashland?  We're working on a trip up there on one side or the other of April 6th.  Their nursery may or may not be open yet depending on if it's winter or spring at that time.
 
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James Landreth wrote:I have a couple of perry pear trees in Washington (still young). From what I understand, and I'm no expert, you're supposed to use mostly sweet pears and a small percentage of perry pears, otherwise it comes out kind of gross. I have no idea if that's true. I was told a similar thing about cider apples. I've got two hendre huffcaps and plan on more, to preserve the genetics.
I'm coming out to Wisconsin to work on some small food forests in Ashland. I won't have much transportation but if either of you are around let me know! I'll be going to The Draw as well, to buy plants



Welcome to Wisconsin! I'd love to meet you at The Draw this spring with Mike. For the cider, I think you are correct. I made applejack with what I had on hand. Some were sweet but a few were not. I tried my hand at freeze distillation and plan to bottle it today. I had a taste of the first pail and it packed a wallop. Good, but super dry. My hubby said. "It's OK but you'll have to acquire a taste for dry wine". [I love sweet wine] Before I bottle it, I'll try to add sugar. Since I ran it all the way through, there should be no more active yeast... Also, I removed *all* the slush from the first pail, so the alcohol must be high but I don't know how to measure it. I was flying by the seat of my pants on this one. I didn't take down any numbers. We'll see how it turns out.
I walked through the snow the other day to try and ascertain what kind of pear trees I have. The tags must have fallen off unless I attached them lower on the tree guard. One had a bit of winter burn on last year's growth. The other one looks OK. They might bear fruit this year but are only shoulder high to me. [Cross my fingers, knock on pear tree].
I need to talk to my son in law and ask him to let this pear tree [that he cut to the ground AAaarrggh] give me a season's growth. I'm not even going to worry if the growth is a sucker from under the graft or above it. I'll try to make cuttings of whatever comes up, separating them as suckers or not. I'll plant the suckers here to make the stock and have scions, if there are scions, to give away, awaiting a time when I could graft new scions on them. (He said the pears were very good, but it was right close to the house entrance and it attracted a lot of wasps.)
Oops! I think I heard another tree go down. We have a blizzard warning here, and the wind is picking up. I just went to water and feed the chickens and noticed I must have 5-6 trees down. All jack pines. They are considered trash trees here. Thin and top heavy with snow and ice. Crows, hawks and squirrels  like them. It rained first, then the rain froze on the trees, then 5-6"of snow, and now it is starting to blow around. Record snow in Eau Claire. We also got a lot more than usual.
We are hunkered down and I will be working on taxes today. First I'll remove slush from the applejack, sweeten and bottle.
 
James Landreth
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I'll be there May 9th until the 14th. I fly into and out of Minneapolis with my partner. Hopefully we'll be able to get together :) I was told to come in May for planting trees at the site I'm working on, because the ground will be guaranteed thawed. I'm not sure if it matters that much or if that's a little late to be planting.

 
Mike Jay
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That should be a good time to be planting.  It's a fair drive from here to there but we'll see how it goes.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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James Landreth wrote:I'll be there May 9th until the 14th. I fly into and out of Minneapolis with my partner. Hopefully we'll be able to get together :) I was told to come in May for planting trees at the site I'm working on, because the ground will be guaranteed thawed. I'm not sure if it matters that much or if that's a little late to be planting.



I'm about 3.5 hrs from Minneapolis and 4.5 from The Draw. I'm definitely going around the 6th. It should be a great time for planting. I don't plant my garden until Memorial day weekend. I'm well south of Mike though. I sure hope we can all get together sometime. The Draw is a little less than 4 hrs from Minneapolis going through Duluth.
 
Posts: 98
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I am located in west-central Montana, in the Missouri River Valley,at 4,000 feet elevation just north of Helena , Montana. We are in zone 4b,and based on the last two winters and this totally insane February of 2019, zone 4b is dead on.  Getting enough chill hours is not a problem here but late frosts can be. We have experienced as little as 6-7 total inches of precipitation in a year to around 14 inches last year. Three of the last  seven winters have seen very little snow cover, the last two winters have had 90 to 110 consecutive days of snow cover, and this one had virtually no snow cover until mid January and now we are buried as deeply as 20inches (45-50 cm) of snow and most nights below 0 F. We clearly have a great deal of climatic variability.

We are growing about 10 cultivars of apples: Sentinel apples-varieties red, golden, and North Pole, dwarf honey crisp, yellow transparent, Carol, wealthy, liberty, sweet 16, and a few others I can't think of at the moment.
I have had decent success with the "prairie cherries"developed at the University of Saskatchewan: Evans (Bali) Romeo, and carmine jewel bush cherries so far with Juliet on order for this spring (assuming we have Spring). Local nurseries sell the Juliets and say they do well and I see no reason why they won't. I do have one. Traditional pie cherry- montmorency. The oldest Evans came into production last summer and have thrived in spite of abuse their first couple of years in the ground ( deer browsing and psychotic late winter warm spells followed by Arctic freezes  causing die-back)
Pears include Summercrisp, gourmet, Ely,Patten and a few others. The Summercrisp, Ely and gourmet have thrived and the others have poked along the last four years.
plums- the prune types have done well and started producing well after three years in the ground. They are tough as nails in terms of putting up with wicked north winds and poor original soil. The cultivars ar Stanley, Santa Rosa, and Italian prune. I have surrounded these specimens with Bocking 14 comfrey and these plants have done wonders to suppress grass and provide mulching fodder.  
I am growing hybrid plums as well. Six varieties all in the ground two years and still establishing. I lost the black ice cultivar to who knows what. Survivors with hope for good growth include: superior, Alderman, Waneta, and three others .

Enough of my rambling. Would gladly discuss other fruiting plants later.
 
James Landreth
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Do you have to irrigate your trees once they're estabished?
 
mike mclellan
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Yes, James, I have had to irrigate the trees for the first several years- oldest trees in the ground 5 years and youngest 3 years.  I used irripans ( aka tal-ya) around the trees to funnel extra water to the trees/shrubs and reduce grass competition. I use large diameter soaker hoses strung along both sides of the trees.  I do have a high water table in the orchard area. I believe it was used for hay when this place was a dairy farm some 60 years ago and it appears that the land is subirrigated.  Distance to water is about 4 to 5 feet depending on the exact location. This past summer, it appeared that the oldest trees in the orchard really took off growth-wise, both in crown diameter and height. Those trees were an Evans cherry, two Adirondack gold apricots, a Brianna apricot, and a couple of the bush carmine jewel cherries, and the Ely pear.  I have in not fertilized them nor really have done the best job in reducing grass competition but these trees really hit the accelerator anyway. My hypothesis is that they have gotten roots deep enough to tap the top of the capillary fringe of the water table. I estimate that to be around 28-30 inches deep. When we excavated for an addition to our house, we had standing water in the footing trenches at 48 inches.  It is my hope and general expectation that most of what I've planted will eventually get to this same  point and not need much in the way of added irrigation but I'm just now really getting the hang of this orchard growing and my trees need more TLC than I have generally provided to date.

As for reaching the capillary fringe, I have tried numerous haskap/honeyberry varieties and most have not thrived at all, many have died. They are reputedly shallow rooted and again, I wasn't the best at consistent watering their first couple of years in the ground. I would not consider those a success at all to date. I have planted haskaps in a raised hugelkultur bed and they have absolutely thrived. The bed is seven years old and the plants have come to dominate  their space in it- heights generally about a meter ( 3.5 feet) and spread easily that wide as well. I rarely water the hugelbed, about once a month, and everything growing in it has done very well in terms of growth, spread and producing luscious fruit (raspberries and haskaps). Generally, extra watering is an absolute must almost everywhere in the interior West (crest of the Sierra/Cascades to east slope of the Rockies). It's just too dry for far too long in the growing season. This season, the trees will get a great start based on all the snow we've got on the ground, but come mid-June or even a bit earlier, we will need to water them on a regular basis. That will depend on the May/June rainfall, which usually is our heaviest precipitation season.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Mike in Montana has a low water table in May-June that forces him to have to irrigate his trees just when they should be taking care of themselves.
Here, in Central Wisconsin, we have a similar problem because although the water table is only 10 ft down, the sand can make the first 10 ft. bone dry and it is hard to get nut trees going that low at first. They will eventually have a long taproot, but first they have to get there!
I was thinking of a possible solution: There are products that are hydrophile, like cotton and "Soil moist". What if at the bottom of the hole to plant a tree we  kept going with a post hole digger. Say another 5 ft or as far as you can.(by the way, the screw type is so much easier to handle and goes so much faster: I will never again go to the spread apart and lift type!)  And as we back fill, we installed a wick of cotton? It would not need to be a very thick wick, maybe something like 1.5" thick?, 5 ft. long? Prime it with a good soaking. That should keep the root ball moist enough if to boot we would add a thick layer of mulch. I suspect my nut trees would get down there faster and be able to fend for themselves?
I also mentioned Soil Moist, which is a good product that also is always water thirsty. It is the same thing they use for baby diapers, so it is safe for baby's skin and probably safe for the environment [without the darn plastic attached to it]. I would go to cotton first because I heard that Soil Moist is so hydrophile that it might also take water *away* from the tree just to stay moist. Cotton would also deteriorate after its job is done.
I was wondering if anyone has tried something like that and how much success they've had with it? If you have not, can you punch holes in this idea before I try it this spring?
 
Mike Jay
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One idea to add would be to use a stick as the wick.  Maybe birch or poplar that is fairly punky already.  It would have to be pretty punky though to act as a wick and let tree roots get into it...  Maybe not a good idea after all....

The diaper gel material is a polymer so it isn't super natural.
 
James Landreth
pollinator
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I bury wood near or under my trees to hold water and create a fungal environment. So the stick as a wick might be a great bet. The cotton might too. I know people here buy coconut fiber for water retention.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Mike Jay wrote:One idea to add would be to use a stick as the wick.  Maybe birch or poplar that is fairly punky already.  It would have to be pretty punky though to act as a wick and let tree roots get into it...  Maybe not a good idea after all....



Hmmm. Actually, I was wondering how to keep the cotton wick stiff while I backfilled, so you just gave me a great idea: I can use a thinner stick of poplar [like 1"thick] and fasten the cotton wick at the bottom end, then stick it in the extended hole. I have some poplar that should do the trick. A thin stick will go punky real quick under ground and add to the soil too. Yep. I think I'll try. Thanks.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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James Landreth wrote:I bury wood near or under my trees to hold water and create a fungal environment. So the stick as a wick might be a great bet. The cotton might too. I know people here buy coconut fiber for water retention.



I have oak to make a hugelkultur, even though it does not rot very fast. I have started and made a short one near the road, to my west, and parallel, a taller one. They run north south, like 150 ft. and I had to bring a load of decent dirt because my sand just won't do. It is going well but is not very tall [3-4']. It is a snow catcher though: I'm creating a strip that is more moist between the 2 'hugels' where I have some wintergreen and some sweet fern growing. Since I have so many oaks dying of the wilt, I started stacking them between 2 rows of timber, parallel to the original hugel, about 20 ft. in. It is about shoulder high now but I'm using it to stop the wind. As it rots, I keep adding, so I should have a really decent one in a while. I just don't have the money to bring more dirt and it is in forest anyway. Right now, it is used by wildlife as protection against the harsh winter. Squirrels, grouse, turkey but no dirt yet...As the standing timbers get overwhelmed, I will start stacking the brush alongside, so it will eventually be sizable and I'll look to plant trees for a sturdy hedge too. Not sure what I'll plant yet, but it will run north south and will have to be tall to stop the wind. I will extend the orchard to the east of it behind that protection..
The big branches might not rot quickly enough but the brush alongside will and start enriching the fungal environment there.
For these nut trees, though, I'll use thin poplar and fasten a skein of cotton, that should work because the poplar will rot fast underground. I give it one year before it crumbles.
 
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Thanks for a great thread all!  This gives me some terrific ideas.
I am in Central Ontario, Zone 4A
I am just newly retired and finally have the time and a bit of money to plant a lot more in my 'forest garden'.   Once I assess how some things did from my last couple seasons; I'll send in a list of varieties.
 
James Landreth
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It sounds like a really good start, Cécile! I'm not sure how well oak will break down but it's worth trying if you have so much of it. My hugels heat up early, especially if I add manure and compost tea (when there's not snow)

Also, I read something interesting about highbush cranberries. Apparently, there are different kinds, some of which (from Eurasia) are nasty and have naturalized in the US and are sometimes sold here. I wonder if yours are these, do
you think that could be the case? I'm hoping the named varieties I've planted will be decent.

http://www.wildflowers-and-weeds.com/Edible_Plants/Articles/Highbush_Cranberry.htm
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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James Landreth wrote:It sounds like a really good start, Cécile! I'm not sure how well oak will break down but it's worth trying if you have so much of it. My hugels heat up early, especially if I add manure and compost tea (when there's not snow)
Also, I read something interesting about highbush cranberries. Apparently, there are different kinds, some of which (from Eurasia) are nasty and have naturalized in the US and are sometimes sold here. I wonder if yours are these, do
you think that could be the case? I'm hoping the named varieties I've planted will be decent.
http://www.wildflowers-and-weeds.com/Edible_Plants/Articles/Highbush_Cranberry.htm



Gosh I hope you are wrong! Unfortunately, I can't go back to the folks that gave it to me as a gift. I have no idea where they may have gotten it. One thing is sure, however: They are totally inedible as far as I am concerned. Perhaps I should try to find out. They called it American highbush cranberry but living close to a cranberry bog and eating them at every Thanksgiving, I can affirm that it is not even close!
I'm planning to go the Jung's when their cold room is open and try a couple of them. If they have the better kind, out these go! As I was saying, only my chickens will eat them [and maybe very hungry turkeys]
As far as the red oaks, there really doesn't seem to be any hope for them: They grow very close to one another and their roots get tangled. To mimic the Christmas song: "one goes out they all go out". I have been removing any small specimen that is too close to the bigger ones, trying to add space between them but so far to no avail. When I have one area cleared of the brush, the big ones don't last much longer, so out they go as well. I am replacing them with maples which [knock on wood] seem to be doing pretty well here, wild cherry trees.... I also want to replace mast with mast, so I'm looking as different nut trees that might grow here. Yellow horn beams? Has anyone heard of them? and of course any other nut that might grow here. Butternut and chestnuts...
 
Mike Jay
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I've heard you can tell the difference by the leaves.  I have some highbush cranberries and a foraging expert warned me of the same thing.  When I told him my plant's leaves looked like a dinosaur foot (three toes), he said I had the native one.
 
James Landreth
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Mine have that same shape, Mike.

Cécile, are you talking about Yellowhorn nut trees? They're supposed to be good in that area, or at least cold hardy enough. I might plant them in Wisconsin. The nuts are supposed to be delicious. They're described as a bitter macademia, so I imagine that they're to a macademia as a walnut is to a pecan, if that makes sense. Beautiful blossoms too
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Mike Jay wrote:I've heard you can tell the difference by the leaves.  I have some highbush cranberries and a foraging expert warned me of the same thing.  When I told him my plant's leaves looked like a dinosaur foot (three toes), he said I had the native one.



Yep. Mine have leaves that look like a dinosaur foot. The turkeys are starting to come after them. They look real pretty, bright red over a snowy background. Even after freezing, they are still not good. I'll let the turkeys have them. but if I could find the native ones that taste better, I'd change them.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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James Landreth wrote:Mine have that same shape, Mike.
Cécile, are you talking about Yellowhorn nut trees? They're supposed to be good in that area, or at least cold hardy enough. I might plant them in Wisconsin. The nuts are supposed to be delicious. They're described as a bitter macademia, so I imagine that they're to a macademia as a walnut is to a pecan, if that makes sense. Beautiful blossoms too



Here is the link, and you are right, it will grow in zone 4. The nuts are small [pea size, they said] but sweet, a little like chestnuts, which would be great!    And indeed, the flowers look like my bees would love them
https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Xanthoceras+sorbifolium
 
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