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portable permaculture

Seren Manda

Joined: May 09, 2011
Posts: 62
Location: Northern Cali, USA -zone 9-
I searched the forums for this and found nada.

Can it be done? I'm moving and I can't take the hugul bed I built with me. I wanted to do a wee food forest of sorts but then I found out the house I'm living in will be on the market within the next year... so I didn't want to drop money into something I can't keep.

I bought two apple trees (Fuji and Anna) grafted on dwarfing rootstock, a grape vine and a couple blackberry canes. All of which are in large pots, so that when I move, they can go with. When I'm able to purchase some property, they will be planted in the ground, the figurative cornerstone for a *real* food forest.

I was wondering what I could plant in the pots with the trees, like a living mulch. I'm playing with the idea of a wild flower mix which would bring in the pollinators. I also like the idea of strawberries.

Mushroom compost, soil from the wormbed and an organic potting soil formed the basis of my potting mix. Only fertilizer is fish emulsion. Each of the pots holding the trees is nearly waist high and bigger around than a wine barrel, though tapering a little towards the bottom.

Are there any suggestions as for a productive living mulch, whether it bring in the good bugs or produces nummies? I don't know if I should try a guild or not, being that they are stuck in pots for what could be years, and I can imagine the potential for anything planted in the pot to get root bound.

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John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6894
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
Most strawberry plants have a productive life of about 3 years. Hopefully, by that time, you will be putting the trees in their new home.

Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
you can use nitrogen fixers that are annuals, like peas and beans and harvest the food and leave the roots to rot in the pot. You probably won't need dynamic accumulators as they are in pots, so maybe just insectary and food producing plants like herbs and as said above strawberries,e tc...maybe lettuces or greens that are cut and come again.


Bloom where you are planted.
Seren Manda

Joined: May 09, 2011
Posts: 62
Location: Northern Cali, USA -zone 9-
John, that's the idea. Even though its dwarf rootstock, I have mixed feelings about keeping a tree in a pot. From what I've read, it's normal practice to trim roots every other year to keep the rootball in check. It's half a step away from bonsai, imho. I'm hoping that the dwarfing rootstock will shine in this application.

Brenda, I was wondering about nitrogen fixers... peas will climb, right? Beans too, unless they are bush beans. Could they strangle the trees? They are 5-6 ft saplings. I like the idea of growing a nitrogen supply right in the pot, I just don't want it to come at the expense of the apple trees.
Artur Sowinski

Joined: Mar 26, 2012
Posts: 37
I seen on growing your greens channel on youtube something that you might like.


It was this kind of growing bed system like above, but instead the beds were made in the following way:

On bottom a shipping pallet. Sides were made from some construction rebarbs (that steel thingies they put into concrete, that look like oversized supermart cart), and to soil not to spill over they used used coffee bags. This was all because they got a deal with local city authority to use some piece of unused property, on conditions that they will be able to move from it on 3 months notice or something like that.

That way they created big-ass system that was consisting of big shipping-pallet-wide pots for plants, which could be loaded up on some lorry and moved into next place. And they were on some parking-lot type of land, independent from the soil itself.

Unfortunatelly i do not have the link to that exact episode, and it was hard to find it, since it was mis-taged. But if you browse that guy's channel you will find lots and lots of inspiration on how to grow your own stuff in ANY setting.

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Grant Schultz

Joined: Feb 17, 2012
Posts: 213
Location: Iowa City, Iowa Zone 5
Step 1: Acquire BIG ASS TRAILER. Old water tanker or mobile home frame for $50-500.

Step 2: Borrow a cutting torch. Toss soil and timber in for a semi-mobile hugel bed.

Step 3: Plant cool stuff

Step 4: Make a video. 'Trailer Farm'. Probably get famous.


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Midwest USA, Zone 5b, 145 acres, GPS Keyline, silvopasture, farm hack, builder
Seren Manda

Joined: May 09, 2011
Posts: 62
Location: Northern Cali, USA -zone 9-
Grant Schultz wrote:Step 1: Acquire BIG ASS TRAILER. Old water tanker or mobile home frame for $50-500.

Step 2: Borrow a cutting torch. Toss soil and timber in for a semi-mobile hugel bed.

Step 3: Plant cool stuff

Step 4: Make a video. 'Trailer Farm'. Probably get famous.


I love that idea. I'd want to work chickens in some how... the Ultimate Urban Garden.

Shailor Clark

Joined: Apr 16, 2011
Posts: 34
Location: Roanoke Island, North Carolina
Here's that video from growingyourgreens

These folks are growing on straight up concrete in a few ways.

I really like the wire & burlap sack idea especially on a pallet.

Just found a nice amount of old potato sacks and I've got plenty of pieces of chicken wire.

I would love to see the trailer idea too! Maybe even a mini bicycle trailer garden with wind resistant plants like carrots, radishes and some mint for a treat after? Maybe some spineless 'prickly pear' cacti.
Living portable food.
You know what... I have to do this, I'll post some photos when I'm done.

I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
subject: portable permaculture