I don't have any experience with nut trees or guilds yet but will after this spring. We're getting an assortment of different types of trees from Grimo and Rhora's Nut nursery (almond, pecan, heartnut, sweet chestnut, hazelnut, persimmon, and korean pine). I intend to document the planting and growth progress and post on here.
Chris, there's a walnut guild thread on permies somewhere if I'm not mistaken. It should come up in a search.
With few exceptions, edible plants are the same amount of work as ornamentals. Herbs tend to be especially easy, and lend themselves well to frequent harvests. I'd suggest going with rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, or parsley depending on your preference. Swiss chard is a nice edible that is considered 'pretty', and that can be harvested multiple times. Many nurseries sell the 'bright lights' type of chard which is a mix of different colours.
Or how about grapes on a trellis going up the side of your balcony?
While listening to Paul and Kelda's podcast #112, it occured to me that a significant problem with online ponds is maybe not common knowledge. Whats an online pond you ask?
An online pond is one that IS connected to a 'natural' surface waterway (creek, stream, river etc.) , whether that waterway flows in and/or out of the pond.
An offline pond is a pond that is not directly connected to 'natural' surface waterways.
This was heavily stressed to me by one of my college professors in my aquatic ecosystems class. Offline ponds are ok, but online ponds are not. Basically the reason is that when a pond is connected to a waterway it heats up the temperature, and can change the volume of water and sediment load of that waterway, so much so that it can drastically alter the waterways ecosystem. This can be disastrous for indigenous aquatic life, as they can be extremely temperature sensetive. It can result in the extinction of some species within the region of said pond if it's big enough or designed a certain way.
So please consider this when planning/constructing ponds.
Offline ponds however, are usually alright in this respect as long as they are far enough away from existing waterways. Check with local authorities as to the safe distance, cuz I can't remember the number.
Re: the airflow inside the bed... Not sure about pressure changes and that, but the airspace inside, and the shifting of the logs and soil as things break down is supposed to help speed up decomposition.
As for where to place the trees... It depends
How big (tall and wide) are your beds? I would think that with massive 7' tall beds you'd want to avoid planting at the top, cuz it'll be pretty freakin dry, UNLESS the field you're planting in is super soaked and soggy for much of the year. If you've got beds that are 1-3 feet high, I'd be inclined to plant em in the middle.
In the video about Sepp Holzer, it looks like he plants them in the path, close to the edge of the bed.
I planted mine in the middle of one side of the bed because I did this because I thought it would give the trees a more evenly spread root system than planting in the paths. Since the paths are more compacted than the beds, the tree would theoretically put more roots into the bed, which could cause bad anchorage of the tree if it's not putting roots into the path . You can see my plantings here:
You can plant bare root trees right into the bed after construction as long as there's enough soil so that the roots aren't directly exposed to air. This might mean that when you dig your hole, you may have to punch through/move some wood aside and fill the hole with soil.
I'm not sure if this has already been posted but I did a search on permies and nothing came up so...
Although the narrator is a bit 'stiff', this is a great 25-ish minute video showing Fukuoka's farming methods. It sums up the main points of the "One Straw Revolution" book, in visual form. I'm glad to finally see it as it was, and not just how I pictured it in my head. The juxtaposition of him farming right next to the chemical farmers is pretty interesting to see also.
Is there hard evidence out there about the offgassing tires? I've only ever heard speculation. I'm not contesting what you're saying, just looking for proof. It's something I've thought about for sure. I'm wondering about earth bags instead of tires, and yes, I've considered many other building designs and types. It'll be at least 5 years before we can even begin to get a new building of any large size in motion, mostly due to lack of money and time.
Until then we're looking for people to partner with, who would build 'cottages' in environmentally friendly ways. If we put em under 108 square feet there's no permit needed and the municipality can't touch us as far as I know. We'd house interns in them and/or rent them out to vacationers and permaculture course students etc. This way, we could trial some building types.
We've had municipal by-law officers visit us and prohibit us from allowing volunteers from staying in our camping trailer or even our school portable. We haven't had problems with the permit office yet, as we aren't at the stage to start building anything major. With our earth-sheltered greenhouse, we built it under 108 square feet so that a permit is not required. We're building a raised verhang extension on the back wall to have a winter chicken house, so the actual area will be bigger than 108 square feet, just not the footprint. Our municipal building inspector for this area is aparently pretty oldschool so I'm kinda worried about our future building plans which include a constructed wetland water treatment system, and an earthship house among other things.
Unfortunately I didn't put transplants nearby as a comparison. Unless I was able to determine what variety of tomatoes would pop up in that ex-compost pile spot, and have space in the same area for transplants of the same variety, I don't think it'd be a fair comparison anyhow.
If I can get it together, I am planning on doing a seed vs transplant comparison this year, in the same bed, same type of tomato. I'd love it if I could avoid starting tomatoes indoors altogether but until I have consistent results, I'm gonna keep to a trial scale.
Some questions for you, to help get a context behind your question:
-What is yours and your wifes level of knowledge and experience with gardening in general, and with permaculture?
-How close are you to affording/finding access to land?
-What are your end goals for the land and your livelihood?
Having the course under your belt before buying land would be beneficial in helping you determine what type of land would best suit your needs but the course is not necessary to do this of course. If you ask yourself what you want to do with the land, what you want to grow, and how close you want to be to civilization, then you can look your choices of land and see which one is the best fit. Moderately sloping is generally better than flat land because slopes drain cold air and are adept at spreading water across land (both above and below ground).
The course will tell you to look at the elements of the property (the wind, soil, sun exposure, precipitation and above and below ground waterways, as well as the ether or space). Take note of these, and how each element interacts with the space. Are there strong winds from the north, sandy or clay soil, cloudy or hot and sunny tendencies, high or low rainfall/snowfall, good or bad water drainage, streams, rivers, lakes or ponds, is it all open fields, all forest, wetland, or a mix?
In a visualization exercise, take stock of all the things you think you desire to do and have on your land and then, say to yourself:
"We have this and that growing, our house is this, we're doing this thing and that thing etc." This makes it a little more real to your brains, and gives a better perspective on your goals and desires, and helps to make a more informed decision. You may realize you don't really want, or couldn't handle certain things, or you may realize you're missing something.
Then ask yourself, which property that I have in mind best facilitates these things?
A short showcase of tomatoes that popped up in a spot where there used to be a compost pile. Tomatoes aren't commonly considered to be able to yield a finished crop in my zone/region but here you have it! We were getting tomatoes from these plants even after a few light frosts!
*I think we only ever watered these tomatoes once. It while they were first forming fruit but they didn't actually need the water, I just wanted to boost their fruit set a little. They were never wilty looking.
I should mention that the compost pile had other food scraps added to it for a year before the tomatoes popped up.
Please 'like' the video on youtube, and/or leave a comment to boost the youtube ratings so more people can be exposed to this subversive idea.
The slash will be included one way or another, whether it falls naturally or I prune and drop it there.
My concern with a varied grove is the difference in species growth rates. I'm thinking that to cut this all down at once would be a lot less hassle than cutting it down in stages, especially with such close spacings.
I realize poplar will decay much faster than most types of trees but most other hardwoods would take twice as long to get to the desired size, and I'm not sure I'm into making hugelkultur beds when I'm 70.
Cj, would you be able to cut the logs into smaller sections that are moveable by hand? I don't suppose you have an ATV? I hauled full sized trees from my forest to the hugelkultur site with an ATV and a heavy chain.
Thanks for the idea about the discount for couples/groups. I'd thought of offering this. The work exchange option will probably be included too.
For this first course, I'm probably going to make it a case of bring-your-own-food, and we will provide the facilities to prepare meals. Again, it comes down to the organizational factors. I want to keep this first time simple. Maybe we'd make it a pot-luck style thing where we bring raw ingredients, combine them and make group meals together. Of course there'd be produce from the farm included.
As for accomodations, our municipality doesn't allow people tent overnight. It's ridiculous but they've already come knocking on our door about it. We don't really have any other space for legal accomodations so we'd require people to find motels and the like. I'm thinking though, of at least asking some nearby organic farmers (who haven't been hassled by the municipality) if they would allow tenters.
Chris, thanks for your suggestions. To address some of your points:
-I'll let you know when the course dates and details are set
-Intro courses that I know of are typically 1-2 days
-We have an ex school portable on the property that we'll most likely be using for indoor class time, which is suitable for about 30-40 students. Since this will be my first course, I'm realistically expecting 10-15 attendees
-I like the idea of the WOFATI structure but we don't have the money for a barn structure with the permits and engineers plans/stamp. Even if we did the permit office here are as oldschool as you can get, and I doubt they'd go for such a thing.
-I also like your idea of getting people to commit to contributing to bringing in Paul Wheaton or someone in that vein but I'm not sure I'm up to that level of organization just yet. I want to get an intro course or two under my belt before adding in a lot of extras. There'll be enough to organize and plan as is.
Jesus Martinez wrote:I would plant fast growing species like alder, cottonwood and poplar.
I would plant alder and cottonwood (which is a type of poplar I think) too if I had a free source for them. I've got really dense growth of poplar seedlings from 3'-7' tall in several areas of my farm, so thats what I'll probably end up using.
Fred Morgan wrote:If you live anywhere that they have to trim trees near the road, etc, you can probably have dropped off more than you ever need for free. Why wait?
Also, look up sawmills, there are always logs that are dropped off that are worthless - too much metal in them, have rot, etc. I can't imagine them not being happy if you just hauled them away.
I just can't get why bother growing the trees when there is so much waste available unless your terrain makes hauling logs into place very difficult.
I guess if you have time, sure, but be aware, a fast growing tree, except one that is nitrogen fixing, is going to suck up nutrients from the soil.
There's lots of tree trimming going on in my area but the rural folk around here are like vultures, on that stuff in no time! I don't have the equipment to haul that stuff, so I don't know that the sawmill option is viable either
I want to bother with growing the trees because I'm only 30, so it's feasible for me to wait 10-20 years for this because the beds I'm building now will be near toast by then.
I know it'll suck up nutrients but thats the point, no? It's accumulating nutrients that'll become part of the bed. Poplar is a nitrogen fixing tree that takes nitrogen from the air and fixes it into its stem. I've got 100 acres, so I could put this idea in an area where it won't be taking nutrients away from current plantings.
Ken Peavey wrote:Rather than harvest the entire tree for hugelkulture use, coppicing would make the trees a renewable resource. Pollarding will also offer a continuous supply of wood. Fruit trees need to be pruned now and then, making them a fine source of woody material, albeit of small diameter.
I've got oaks all over the place. They drop branches and limbs all the time, saves me the effort of sawing. Being dead the wood has a head start on rotting whereas green wood takes longer.
I thought about going the coppice or pollarding route with this idea but I'm going to be doing that type of chop n drop in other areas anyways, mostly with no mor than 20 feet of my fruit and nut trees/bushes. I'll probably also do a coppice plot for firewood production but I wanna get food in the ground first. I've got plenty of forested area to last me many decades of firewood as is.
I have already built a 100' x 50' area of hugelkultur, and will continue to build more and more using the existing 20-30 acres of woodlot on the farm here. I'm just thinking waaay ahead, and thinking about all the work and fuel that goes into hauling logs. I'd like to eventually avoid that and this is the way I see of doing so.
Chris, if you find that person in Ontario, please let me know.
I hear you Laura Jean. Some of the prices for PDC"s I've seen seem pretty inflated. I'm putting together an intro to permaculture course and holding it at my farm but am consciously keeping the fee low. I'm probably going to charge a sliding scale of $45-$65, but I need to do some figuring on how much time I'll be putting into this before I settle on it. I am considering some kind of a work exchange as an option. The next cheapest intro course in ontario that I could find was $55 but do you think $45 is too high? If you know of one thats cheaper let me know. I don't want to undercut the other courses in the area but I also want to keep the cost fair. I also offer for people to come learn for free. I know that I have a looong way to go but I feel that I have a lot to offer as an instructor of an intro course.
I feel that I'll be able to offer a fair amount of 'real world' examples to show people, and the opportunity for hands on learning (earth-sheltered passive heated greenhouse, cold frames, several styles of no-till cultivation including hugelkultur, polycultures that incorporate wild plants, young food forests, incorporating animals in farming, microclimates, and we're hoping to start keeping bees in a langstroffe and warré top bar hive. I've also got a field trip set up to a guy living nearby, fully off grid and pretty self sufficiently. I'm also probably going to offer the opportunity for people to stay an extra day to pick my brain and/or do more hands on work of their choice.
This plan came about from (I think it was Paul) saying that after hauling cut trees around to make hugelkultur beds, Fukuoka said something to the effect that if he had to do it again he'd just plant the trees in the spot and wait til they were big enough, cut em down, and bury em.
So here's my plan:
- Plant three blocks of trees for every one hugelkultur bed I want. Each block will be in slightly wavy rows of trees, with row and tree spacing set at one foot apart
-The rows will be angled about 40 degrees from the general contour (Angle as recommended by Sepp Holzer)
- Spacing from one block to the next will be 6-7 feet. Once the beds are made this should leave a final path width of about 2-3 feet. We have poplar growing in mixed stands here on the property and many of them grow 3-4 feet apart. Between each block I'm going to cram in thick plantings of red osier dogwood to be used for chop n drop mulch between the poplars. Dogwood is a dynamic accumulator if I remember David Jacke's edible forest gardens book correctly. As with the poplar, I have craploads of dogwood growing on the property that I could propagate or transplant.
-When the blocks start to get real crowded, I'll thin them out to leave a 3 foot spacing and let the remainder grow to maturity before breaking out the saw
-Wait until the trees have grown to a decent size (or my 50th birthday, whichever comes first), cut them down and bury them using soil from the adjacent paths
-Innoculate the cut stumps in the thinned tree stumps and/or the adjacent 'sacrificial beds' with shiitake or oyster mushrooms if there's enough shade
So thats the 'off the top of my head' plan. What do you think?
I'm debating whether to go with all poplar or a mix of poplar and other random trees that I can dig from nearby hiway ditches (mostly maples, linden aka basswood, and ash). Ideally I'd like to go with diversity but since I'd like even growth rates, and a finished hugelbed before I reach the age of 65, I'm leaning towards all poplar. Poplar grows fast, fixes nitrogen in its stem, and I have a crapload of them growing in fallow fields on the farm.
I'm also wondering whether this'll be enough biomass to build a decent sized bed. I'm thinking that I may have to plant more than 3 of these beds next to eachother in order to get enough wood for one sizeable hugelkultur bed. I'd love to have the beds be 6-7 feet high so my future old bones won't have to bend over to harvest.
Another thing I'm wondering is how much (if any) limb pruning I'll have to do in order to avoid too much conjestion between the trees. Will it be a real time-vampire or will the limbs just kinda prune themselves through natural happenings...
Yet another question in my mind is whether to do it this way or space the trees further, coppice them at an early age to get multiple stems per tree planted. I'm wary (weary?) of this because I'd rather the trees grew straight and I think that coppiced tree limbs would probably grow outwards.
Sepp says to put them at a slight diagonal goign down the hill so the water all doesnt get held up in the first bed, Dont forget there designed as sponges so if you are doing any number they will very quickly suck up the water.
if your only having one them I dont spose it will matter aslong as your not trying to gather any amount of water below.
in the picture in his book he has them at almost a 40 degree angle stagered going down the hill.
hope this helps
Peter, it's been awhile since I've seen that diagram but isn't there a contour swale or terrace upslope from the hugelbeds? Is there also one downslope too?
Devon Olsen wrote:
thats some great to know information man, i am really looking forward to ordering that book soon
i am also on flat praries so the pond thing was quite different to me as well, you believe its best to have less ponds in the same area when on flat land because of the speed the water will move?
Thats my guess but I don't really know. I also think this because there's less surface area on a flat footprint of land, compared to a hilly area of land with the same sized footprint.
Devon Olsen wrote:
i am going to plant a large windbreak for the 40 acres as one of my first things this summer but i didn't quite think that one should plant a windbreak for EVERY pond, though i may have by the time i got to putting said ponds in
and the seed mixture always interested me, i was always curious what the actual seeds were?
and the ratio is something else i hadn't thought too deeply about, perhaps i oughta be played with?
Not sure if you know this already but even the tallest windbreaks are only effective at breaking wind for about 150-200 feet of land downwind. With this in mind, I'm hoping to split the fields on my farm that I'm going to put into vegetable/fruit production into suntraps that are about 209 feet wide and long. The field I'm starting with is about 420 feet east-west and about 1000 feet north south. And until those windbreaks are tall enough I'm planning on planting smaller suntraps within the larger ones.
Tyler, I haven't looked at that yet but it's on my reading list. Thanks for the link
I was simply posting it as food for thought, and maybe that someone would get something out of it, even if its what not to do. I actually came across the video after watching some Sepp videos for the dozenth time. An intern I had here from France turned me on to Sepp in 2010. He was so passionate about Sepp that he bought his Permakultur book before there was an english translation, because at the time he bought it we had a german intern staying here too, who agreed to translate the book for us.
Even still, I'm mystified at some aspects of Sepp's pond/lake techniques. Eg. How it translates to relatively flat land (which is what I have), how he determines the placement of the ponds on the highest point of the land, how to determine how far apart the ponds should be, how the pumps culverts and 'the monks' are placed, and how the streams are constructed.
Of course there are a lot of variables that play into these factors but I found that his permakultur book didn't give enough detailed information to empower the reader to say "With this type of situation, this is how to set up your ponds and terraces." From what I can determine by all that I've seen and read about Sepps' methods:
I think that with flat land, it means you need less ponds in a given area that are spaced out farther than if the land was sloped, because the water is slower to move through the landscape. I think that the pond at the highest point should be very close to the most wind-protected edge of a forest/tree line to keep the wind from moving the water away (both in the air and in the pond), with enough space between the pond and treeline for an access road and terrace so that your pond doesn't fill up with eroded soil from uphill. I think that between the forest treeline there should be no more than a few lines of production trees in order that the pond be close enough to the windbreak for it to be effective (eg. within 150 feet of the treeline). I think that the streams connecting the ponds would follow the lowest points of the land.... But I'm not really sure of any of this.
His seed mixture is a bit mystifying as well. I've got a list of the seeds he uses but not how he determines the ratios of this seed to that seed (eg. 5% this seed, 2% that seed, 20% t'other seed)
I think that the shorter lived plants and plants with closer spacing make up higher percentage of the mixture, with wild flowers coming in next, and the smaller percentage would be made up of the longer lived plants and those that need wider spacing. But I'm not sure.
Maybe our translation was off, or maybe my notes were lacking but I recall that his book lacked essential details like these.
Not sure if it's feasible for you but what we did with our tractor (before we had a more proper winter house) was place hay bales around the sides and on top of the tractor(straw bales would work better). We left some gaps on the sides to allow airflow, and would remove some of the bales on the south side in the morning to allow good sunlight exposure.
So I painted most of my fruit trees and bushes with a paste mix the other day, after a light pruning of some branches that were rubbing, or weak and trimming some branches that were browsed by deer. I left them unprotected from browse for this long because I was hoping that the deer would leave them alone. I'm trying to see how little I can get away with in terms of tree care. I guess I'll have to take measures every year, as I figured I probably would have to. I'm hoping that the paste will deter any further munching.
My trees are only 2 years old so there wasn't too much to paint but it still took quite awhile. If I do this again I'll go with the spray rather than the paste. Some trees I painted all above ground surfaces, some I only painted the trunk, some only the trunk and terminal buds, and some I left alone. I'm somewhat concerned that if the paste is on too thick it'll retard the buds from leafing out but I have faith.
I'd post pictures but there's not too much to look at. Picture a 6 foot tall fruit tree that looks like it just came back from woodstock '69 (It's covered in mud!)
I'm wondering about the timing of the cutting of the clover, I'm assuming white clover is the way to go as zemljak mentioned. So, the clover is scythed in spring but the white clover I've seen doesn't grow more than 4-5 inches tall. So scything is done when the wheat is under 2-3 inches, or is it done very soon after it sprouts? In my head I'm seeing this as being some annoyingly precision scythe work if not done right after wheat sprouting.
I'm growing Ruhi ginger, sourced from East Branch Ginger, through Puna Organics in Hawaii.
I'm in zone 5a, and I've met a farmer growing ginger in zone 4 who's had great results so I'm confident that climate isn't an issue for me. I'm just looking for tips on ginger growing, and how to take it from the conventional frame into a permaculture way of cultivation.
For example...East Branch Ginger company recommends:
"Ginger Yields Better with High Beneficial Soil Microbe Populations
Use products like Actinovate, Contans, and Trichoderma to build these populations in a soil that is not robust in beneficial micro organisms. These supplements are also helpful when growing ginger in containers with soiless media.
These beneficial bacteria and benecial fungi help ginger take up more nutrients; an important feature that boosts yields in your ginger harvest! These supplements are a very good investment, along with proper nutrition, to ensure a bountiful return."
So would adding pioneer deciduous forest soil into the planting trench have a similar effect? Since I'm already importing ginger rhizomes from Hawaii, I'd rather not buy actinovate and the like, especially if I can just dig up some forest soil from right here on the property.
I also am wondering about 'hilling' the ginger with hay instead of soil, as can be done with potatoes. I would compensate by adding extra manure to offset any nutrient tie-up from the hay decomposition. Maybe I should just hill with horse manure, I'm just thinking that hay would be quicker and easier to apply, and I have a lot more of it than I do horse manure.
Any other suggestions? Intercropping/polyculture ideas etc.?
Cj Verde wrote:Travis, another question about the trees.
Why do you think those trees will survive in your zone? It doesn't look like there is any micro climate adjustment. Were they just planted? If not, how many years have they been there?
I think they'll survive because: They are heavily mulched, they are planted near the top of a south facing gentle slope, with the beds pointing in the slopes direction so the frost will drain away. The hugelkultur mounds are much warmer than the surrounding flat ground, and are near a 100' x 60' pond. Also, that field is probably the most wind protected field on the property.
The trees were planted in the spring of 2011. We've already been through most of winter here and the tree buds are looking good.
Here's a tour of our one year old hugelkultur forest garden of 50 feet x 100 feet. I realize that it's a long video but I felt that editing it down would leave out valuable information. Think of it as an exercise for your attention span? Or there's always the pause button. I had edited in an ambient music track throughout the tour but the music isn't showing up on the youtube upload for some reason. If I figure out the problem I'll repost the video with the audio track, as it helps the pace of the video. In the meantime I'd suggest putting on some music in the background as you watch the video. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy..
Thanks for the tips and encouragement Max but I dunno... The nearest bales are at the bottom of a hill, and are so old and water logged that they seem to be twice as heavy as normal. The next closest ones are about 800 feet away, and again, are just as old and waterlogged. We do have a trailer but the sides are fixed and pretty steep to ramp up them.
I'm gonna stick with wood and maybe a bed or two using square bales. We have about 20 acres of deciduous forest and I've only gleaned about 3-4 acres worth of dead wood, and have barely scratched the supply of live trees. (The neurotic in me feels need to mention that I didn't take all the dead wood in those 3-4 acres. I took maybe 40-60% of the volume and left the rest to do what it was designed to do)