I have just read that bracken fern makes good mulch, we get that here too in Michigan (just west of you zone 4/5)
In my blog I have a lot of info for zone 4/5 that might be helpful for you, some things are as bit tender in zone 4 but I have some microclimate here too.
I also have a lot of wetland and wild apple trees on my property
you can pretty much bury any wood in any condition esp if it isn't alleopathic (like walnut) or rot resistant (like cedar)..alder is probably common in your area as are aspen and they work well.
watch for oyster mushrooms on aspens also, they are wild here.
make sure when you build your hugel beds to get out as much air as possible, several people posting on the hugel forum are having problems and that might be air pockets..water it well and try to fill in air pockets
speaking of iris which I love another ornamental plant that a lot of people don't realize is edible and that grows prolifically is the daylillies (i love daylillies)..you can eat the root, but and flower and you don't feel guilty about eating the flowers as they are only "pretty" for ONE day..so the day they bloom, pick them while still nice and eat them..
they will make a solid mat of roots and can be divided and moved many many times ..and live "forever"..even in old barnyards..they'll compete agains the grass too as I have planted them out in open fields..(you can do that with oriental poppies also)..
I'm not Market gardening, however I have found that things that I have been able to sell are things that aren't easily available at a good price locally..I've always been able to sell any excess raspberries or blackberries, they are so perishable and expensive and taste like crap from the stores..your good fresh blackberries or raspberries will be huge sellers as will any jams or jellies that you make from them..(added value)..but I find the fresh berries go fast at a roadside stand here.
Genearlly I just put up a sign and keep them cool in or near the house..so as to keep them really fresh.
Eggs are generally huge sellers if your chickens are free range..people have a hard time finding true free range chicken eggs anywhere (most are penned even if they are "organicallyl fed")
If you have nice fruit trees, excess fruit will be a given, most times you can sell that quite easily and you don't have to replant every year.
unusual plants will also sell quickly like jerusalem artichokes, horseradish, rhubarb, asparagus, baby greens, ..and as Mark said "cut flowers"
I agree with Mark about not just planting an "orchard"..you might also read Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway or some other good food forest books. Planting a food forest is much healthier than planting just an orchard and you'll get a lot more food for yourself, your wildlife and your animals..but the property will be much healthier for it.
The elec fencing is a good idea for the Llamas as Mark mentioned..however deer will hop over that with a smile and dinner...so prepare for deer also if you have them
Well I have been an impulsive reader since I was 4 years old, and my favorite reading material is on plants, so I get a lot of "advice"..but yeah, I'm also a real plant lover and stick in anything I can find or afford to buy and see if it will grow.
All this talk about hazelnuts also has me thinking about how I can spread out my hazelnuts that are growing so well on my property right now..they do have suckers but I have never tried to dig and move them and I haven't taken cuttings of them, but I really did enjoy my first crop last year (ate them all myself)..so I'm thinking of trying to dig up some of the suckers and extend that planting into a much longer hedge..I was so surprised at how easy they are to pick also..esp for an old foagie like me..(61)..I love easy.
I am a firm believer that if you have land and you can deal with doing it you should plant as much food as possible not only for yourself, your family and friends but to give or sell and also for all of the wildlife..someday we might need to live off of all that wildlife so they better be well fed.
the tree tubes will work well for baby trees, but once they outgrow the tree tubes and the branches stick out at the top, the branches are now fodder for whatever can reach them..they do well in protecting the trunks but not upper branches..you'll still want to put some wire mesh around the tops of your baby trees until they reach enough height to be out of nibble reach of white tail deer, which will stand on their hind legs to eat tree foliage and tender shoots..
Here in Michigan in the winter you can look thru the forest and see clearly for a long distance UNDER the deer on hind leg height..where they have stripped off all of the branches of all of the trees except evergreens to about a height of 5'..it really is a strange thing to see if you haven't seen it.
In the past few years we have had very MILD winters in Michigan so a lot of the trees are growing lower branches, but you get a cold hard winter with a ton of snow (we have 3" on the level today) and they'll be eating the branches right off even the largest trees as high up as they can reach, or they die.
Tal, that is a real big difference betweeen photo one and photo two if they are in the same spot..wow..great job.
as for finding cardboard, probably the local recycle area has a lot that they would let you take
you can also use things like old carpeting which might be available in huge quantities from your local carpet installer? I'm not fond of using the carpet myself I'd rather have the cardboard as it does disappear where the carpet will last a lot longer and if it is bright orange or something looks really bad
Mine were "called" Dwarf American Hazelnuts, they are only about 4 years old and bearing lovely, they are around 6' tall and are spreading from suckers.
by the way, has anyone ever tried removing suckers and transplanting them, I would love to expand my stock of the same ones I have as they are bearing wonderfully and I have lots of suckers, would love to extend the hedge around the east side of my food forest enclosure
if they should be done from cuttings anyone know the best time of year to strike cuttings?
I really like what you said about basically not growing things that don't want to survive...I'm somewhat that way but will give a species a fighting chance to live again if at first it doesn't succeed..after a few tries I tend to give up..
but if I read something that tells me I did it wrong the first time..or if it had really crappy drought, with super high winds and highest temps in 100 years..then I might give it a second chance in a more protected area.
I'm a sucker for throwing away money to try one last time I guess.
However, after doing this with a few things that really should survive here as they were rated for my zone and climate..I have gone on the third or fourth time and had the items live and provide a crop, then I'm totally thrilled..but I'm with you..not going to grow bananas or citrus outside in Michigan..no way....and I have a small greenhouse 6x8 to put some maters in for extending their fall eating, have some greens grow in there year around and keep my rosemary plant going in one corner..hope to do better with using it in the future.
I have tried kiwi a few times and they didn't do well, but i kinda blame myself as they are the super hardy kind..so like a fool I ordered 4 more females and a male for this spring..and I'm going to try to be a better mama to them. I'm going to keep them INSIDE and protect their little roots until I know they are really ready to go outside..prune them better..protect them when I plant them..better..and hope for the best..but I promise if I fail this time I'm done.
I have tried paw paw a few times to no avail, even planting local seeds inside the plant in the soil in the edges of my woods..but if those seeds don't show up as trees someday I'm done, not spending more money trying to grow paw paw !!
I failed several times with peaches and plums, but have them growing nicely now, and had a similar situation with pears but have 10 lovely pear trees growing and got my first crop this year..so I'm determined but not too foolish.
after having a super late hard killing freeze this past year that knocked out almost all of our fruit blossoms...and then having the worse drought and the warmest summer on record for our area after that I have come close to giving up on a few things..but as I said I'm determined..and so I'm planting more fruit trees, kiwi vines, strawberries and a bunch of annual seeds this year and hoping for a much better year..thanks for answering all the questions Mark..and I might just give up on a few things this year if they don't make it !! .....and maybe not
can't remember where from but got some cheapo hazelnut seedlings about 4 years ago and had my first crop of 6 dwarf american hazelnuts last fall..they were small nuts but sweet tasty and very easy to pick..i was floored at how quick they produced a crop and how many I got the first crop..next year looks to be a bumper crop (according to the catkins I'm seeing on them..) I love them...and they are a beautiful hedge
the llamas reach will be a problem if you don't plan for that..measure the reach of your llamas, and put the protection out far enough to prevent them from reaching over it..maybe use some metal or fiberglass posts and chicken wire or something like that..put it out say 2 or 3 feet from the trunk all the way around to prevent the llama from getting to it?? once they are tall enoug (provided they are standard rather than dwarfs) they should be fine.
if you have no desire for the annual vegetables, then sure you could do only perennials in your food forest..it would be fine..There are plenty of perennials that can be used in the understory. several of my food forest sections are totally perennial..but I enjoy eating annuals so I have some areas that are used for annuals too
thanks Mark. I looked up your Little house on the urban prairie link on chestnuts and hazelnuts....both of which I already have growing on the property...I even got my first harvest off of 6 of my hazelnuts last fall, was so pleased.
as far as the prunus varieties..I have cherries, plums, peaches, apricots growing now on the property that are doing fine, the problem was one area where I had planted some and they had died and I tried to replant in the same area..therefor am moving to a new area with the plants that are coming this spring.
I have 3 peach trees growing fine in other areas now, 7 plums, several varieities of cherries including sweet, sour, ornamental and bush, 2 apricots and there are a lot of wild prunus varieties in the woods on the property..
I figured the one area where things were NOT succeeding were due to the transplant disease so I changed that area over to pear trees and they are doing OK there, one is suffering slightly but it might be for another reason..out of 10 pear trees one not thriving is not unusual.
Just wanted to know if you had any experience with or knowledge of the transplant disease and what species it affects..
remember when you plant on a slope make sure that you have placement where you will actually be able to harvest what you plant..otherwise it should not be a problem..if there isn't enough water soaking into the root zone you might want to put in a swale or bury some wood or something to hold water at the tree root zones..i had to do that with some sweet cherries that weren't getting enough moisture on the slope that they were on
we have large numbers of deer here in Michigan where I plant but also we have something that can be even more devastating, rabbits !
In order to protect my trees when they are very small here, we put a lot of stuff around our baby trees to act as a barrier for the rabbits and deer. You can take things like logs and brush and pile them around your trees, rocks and stones, and if you have the money even wire fencing is a great barrier around a baby tree. You can buy things to protect tree trunks, but they also tend to cause moisture build up and rot on the tree trunks.
You also can take a paper stapler, and just staple a piece of paper or cardboard that is wrapped once around the tree..you'll often see things like this in nurseries..but remove it regularly so the tree can get air inside..or leave it very loose..
for me the piles of logs and brush work quite well against rabbits..but the deer tend to be taller than the brush and can reach down and nibble off the tops..so often you'll get a little top damage..but generally it won't kill the entire graft or top part if root grown.
hair from a barber or soap sometimes helps, or maybe the bone sauce that Sepp recommends. I honestly think if you can have a physical barrier that prevents the critters from getting close enough to do damage you are better off..sometimes just planting nurse trees around your fruit trees will be helpful. I had an apple seedling that grew on it's own out of the center of a bunch of tag alders ..that kept it alive.
OP I'm in a similar zone to you in Michigan and I honestly feel that it is best to eliminate as much of the grass as you can under your fruit trees. Best way to do this is before planting, but it can be done after, it is just much more tricky. I am planting a lot of dynamic accumulators and nitrogen fixers under my fruit trees and adding herbs and other insectaries to attract beneficial bugs and pollinators. There is some grass near some of my fruit trees, but the grass does tend to rob from the fruit tree and doesn't have the correct bacterial/micro make up for tree health.
If you can add some forst soil to the holes when planting tree or put some around the established trees it would be helpful
I love to sneak fruits and nuts into hedgerows and roadsides when I'm walking or whatever. I often take pockets full of nuts or berries with me when I walk and plant them along the roadsides, I also have an open field (used to be) that I put in bits of nuts, fruits and berries of every kind I can find, and it is now getting some good growth going.
I also love to give baby trees to neighbors and friends to plant, and I tend to go along dirt roads behind the road graders and get the little seedlings in the loose soil graded up along side the road..generally evergreens which make great windbreaks and privacy screens...if you look on my blog almost all of those evergreens you see have been replanted from the wild.
Also several of our apple trees here grew from bait piles that were put out years ago when people were hunting wild whitetail deer on the property..and they are great apples
In Michigan I'm on the warm side of 4 and the cold side of 5 so I'm a slight bit warmer than you are. You can see in my blog what I am growing here. I have in the past had good crops of peaches, apples, cherries, plums, hazelnuts, grapes, and many others..but this past year (2012) we lost nearly all of our fruit to a hard late freeze. I'm hoping that doesn't happen again but it is something that happens in these zones. You gotta realize you will have some very bad years. In the past I have also had evergreens freeeze to death from cold winds, so windbreaks are very important in these climates.
I also have a small greenhouse so that I can extend my seasons, but I mean small. I know if I had more coldframes and a larger greenhouse I could do more..but I don't.
As far as the food forests, first and most important is establishing a windbreak or some type of protection for your food forest, and also making sure that the trees that you plan to plant are the hardiest ones available. Canada has some really great nurseries up there, so buy from those closest to you with similar conditions and they should perform well for you. As for those pesky late freezes..good luck with that..I have heard in some places burning smudge pots works or spraying with water (if you can find a hose that isn't frozen solid).
I'm in a similar zone probably a bit cooler than your Wisconsin Food forest here in North Central Michigan. I have had a problem in the past with peaches and have read information about replant disease. I now understand that there are some problems of planting PRUNUS varieties close to each other or where other PRUNUS varieties may have been planted and died in the past. You don't hear much about that in permaculture and also I have read that there are some companion plants that might be alleopathic in some way to PRUNUS variets, such as possibly strawberries, tomato and other nightshades, etc.
I have been planting a lot of fruit and nut trees over the years in a food forest setting, and I do have concerns in mixing varieties that might spread disease to other plants or be hosts to things that might damage other plants so this is of quite an interest to me and was wondering if you have any knowledge that you can share in this matter. I have 4 new peach, 2 new cherry and 25 new strawberry plants as well as an apple and 5 kiwi coming this spring and I really want to be careful not to put things in a position where they could be causing damage.
I have had problems with peaches that have died out when planted within 20 feet of other peaches (dwarfs) and when I tried to replant all but one died. I am moving the new peaches and cherries to areas where none have been planted in the past but then was also wondering about the same problem with other types of trees, heard it could also be possible with pears and apples. Thanks.
strawberries shouldn't be around PRUNUS (for some reason, not sure why). I have some coming in spring and was going to plant them near prunus, now I have to figure out a different place to put the little buggers. I know they can take a woodsy edge as wild strawberries grow in shade and acid soil
the property our house and all of our neighbors houses on were once wetlands..the original homesteaders here built ponds and used the fill for the base for the homes and drainfields and roads..worked out really well..our home has a pond with a fill around house and drainfield and we love it...see our blog
i divided my comfrey two years ago and put a small piece of comfrey under every single fruit tree, last year they began to grow quite well, the tiny pieces didn't do much but the larger ones grew well, I expect them to be chop and drop size this year
this is great, I believe that it does boost comments on posts when there is a promotion. Also it opens up people to the knowledge that there is more material out there that they might be interested in.
Hi, well I'm almost 62 and I have no real problem getting things done around my permaculture / food forest property. sure sometimes reaching things and lifting and moving things can be a challenge, but I manage to get er done (usually better than some 20 year olds).
I live in the NW quadrant of the lower peninsula, S of Traverse city..and you are welcome to stop in when you are travelling N, just off US131 at the end of the expressway.
We lost our home and a lot of our food forests to a housefire in 2002 so we have been rebuilding and replanting a lot over the past few years, as we could afford. I plant new fruit and nut trees every year, I have a load of baby trees and vines coming this spring already ordered. A few of them are getting to bear stage now, so things are starting to take some shape again. We lost all but just a few of our fruit trees and I'm happy to say I picked a pear, a medlar and a bunch of hazelnuts on my baby trees for the first time last year even with our horrible late frosts and droughts.
We are having another unusually mild winter here in Michigan again, a good time to get started..sure different than the hard winters we were used to. Hope you enjoy your move to the UP
I downloaded the book that was mentioned in the OP..and have been reading it all afternoon. It has some good info but if you apply permaculture and hugelkulture to the process the yields should be much higher than the yields that are mentioned in the charts in the book. I was looking at the yields of fruit tree and ground crops and thinking how you couild combine them by planting them in a food forest rather than in the monocrop type intensive beds..therefor having layaers of crops, like trees above, hedges of bush fruits with the greens on the ground and root crops below..etc..so you can have maybe 4 times the yield..thus..you should be able to grow about 4 times as much or maybe a little less than that per area.
this isn't a financial question and isn't the proper place to put this but I know you'll see it here. In the woodbine site I see them growing woodbine ..which I grow extensively here. I have always been told it is not edible and possibly toxic..if you know differently I would like to know..thanks.
love Eric but obviously couldn't attend the seminar anyway, so hopefully my name wouldn't get picked..can't wait to read Eric's advice..what a knowledgable person..by the way would Eric please list the books he has written by title..I'll add any I haven't read to my reading list..(if there are any)
you are likely in a similar zone to my property, however your elevation is probably higher than mine (Michigan). You can check out my blog for information on what I am able to grow etc.
As for the conifers, I believe that you make sense in removing the diseased and young ones that are in your way and put some trails through the woods so that you are able to get to any natural clearings that might be availabe ..you might be able to locate clearings by looking at it from the air with google maps.
The baby fruit trees you have will give you time to get some guilds built around them, I prefer to start with things like comfrey and some perennial vegetables with a hedge of fruit bushes, to give some quick food..
If you find a clearing in your forest put in something that will enjoy the type of soil that is there that will soak up any sun, you can generally plant a fruit tree on the North or West sides of trails that you build and get some sunshine as the trails open up to the sun a bit..some mushrooms also will grow under conifers and also we found wild blueberries under conifers on the back part of our property when we built trails..so think about blueberries.
as for your pond..do you have ANY clay soil? my pond was built on clay soil..before we dug it really deep it would dry out when we had our summer droughts (we have no creek) ..but now that it is really deep in some spots those areas have never dried out yet..so deeper is better and no liner if you have clay.
in Michigan I have a super tiny little greenhouse that I use year around...we heat with an outdoor wood furnace and the pex runs underground to our house and our son's house from the furnace.
we put the greenhouse above where the pex comes out of our furnace about 6' away...and the pex runs about a foot below the surface of the ground or a little more.
Right now in my greenhouse I have some tomato plants finishing up, have lots of greens from mixed lettuce and other greens as well as swiss chard that grows lovely in the greenhouse year around...I let some swiss chard go to seed in there and it really is doing well. I also have a rosemary in there that survives our Michigan winters in a shady corner of the greenhouse where it is a bit drier than the rest of the greenhouse.
I do understand Paul's no greenhouse reasons, but for us here in Michigan it is a really great thing to have. Our greenhouse has an automatic roof vent that opens when the thing gets too warm on a sunny day..and I love it (it was a alum/double wall construction prefab deal at just under $1000 we bought over 20 years ago and have moved it several times, it is on a 4x4 base with rebar into the ground to keep it stable) you can see it in my blog..address below
a good way to bring awareness to this important topic..
I have noticed a new logo in some of the seed catalogs but some catalogs are still not doing a very good job of making the information readily available in their descriptions..which is so disappointing.
I already have my plant and seed order in for 2013, and have a lot of seeds saved from 2012 for this year's planting, but still can't help but look and want to buy more..and am hoping a lot of my roots are surviving out there for seeds for this year..at least we have some snow covering them this year.
i have a small unheated greenhouse but my pex from my wood furnace runs in the soil below it..i still have tomatoes growing in it..but they don't ripen well without much sunshine.
there is swiss chard growing in there and some other greens from a mixed greens packet..and they are strong and healthy...we have gone as low as about 15 overnights here..but usually it lasts all winter in the greenhouse (6x8 double wall plastic)
I have kale still growing outside, but the bunnies have eaten the bottom leaves off of it so it looks like lollipops..thought about cutting it down to the ground??
In the past I have had cabbage roots make it and regrow baby cabbage heads, but that was near my septic tank where there was some heat, haven't had it work in the garden where it isn't heated..so you might try some areas with some ground warmth..or a cold frame..or a small greenhouse or hoophouse
i know very little about the sub tropics..my gardens are in Michigan..
my best advice would be to make a list of the food you enjoy and buy and can grow in your area.
then plan around the trees...put your trees in with some proper canopy spacing..largest to the north and shortest to the south..if you can bring in forest soil to put in the holes...and bury some bits of wood around them
then begin to plant dynamic accumulators and nitrogen fixers around the trees..and a few insectary plants (herbs are great for that). stick in some of your favorite annual plants if you plan to grow some, but look for perennials that you enjoy eating first.
you might want a fruiting hedge around the property, like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, grapes, etc..and interplant with some perennials or annuals that you enjoy eating.
feed the soil !!..mulch...water well first year esp
patterns tend to be suggestive, in helping design, but once there is already something on the property design is generally what "works".
when leading into our existing forest, i took the path of least resistance thru in the directions I wanted to go..in otherwords where there were gaps, or smaller trees of little value, and I used a mower and chainsaw and pruners to make trails..and keeping them clear.
as you do this you'll find also areas where trees are dead or dying in many cases. Those are contestants for removal and replanting those areas, esp if the sun reaches those areas. Your trails will also open up some sunshine to the area..which means you can plant on the sunny sides of your trails.
remember there are other plantings you can put in that are smaller than trees, bushes, vines, shrubs, herbs, bulbs, etc. And also you should note that a lot of plants actually do better when not in full sun...although some do require full sun or fullish sun for at least part of the day to thrive.
also if you have open areas on your property you have "edges"..edges are the best place to grow a lot of things.
I have the house and some open land near it, and then North of there is woods..so there is a lot of edge on the south edge of the woods where I have planted fruit and nut trees, shrubs, and perennials
i guess a good question would be WHY.. what are you planting the grains for...animal food, commercial, people food, etc.
I was planting some grains for small grain use for just our home, and then I realized ..hey..I'm on a low carb diet, why am I planting grains.....now IF I AM planting them for the chickens that I plan to buy in the spring (If i ever do)..then that is a good reason..but otherwise WHY am I planting them?
plant what you'll use or your animals will use or you can sell