Re: my above post... I could see this applying to a patch of potatoes grown the conventional 'soil mound' way, which is getting attacked by beetles. All you have to do is bury the plants with mulch, and continue to do so once per month, or if the beetles persist.
I have read the first volume thoroughly and have read pertinent parts of the second.
Overall I think that anyone wishing to get into forest gardening in a temperate climate would benefit from these books. I think someone else said it; the case studies and plant species index list at the back is worth the purchas alone IMO.
The first volume is a bit dry at times, and if you know a lot about plant ecology it may be a lot of review but if you're new to the concept I could see it being a real catalyst for a mindshift into thinking about plantlife in a whole different way.
As I said, I haven't read teh whole of the second volume but from what I have read, its well worth the read.
When I first heard about the book set I was a poor student so I kinda tricked my college's library into ordering it for their shelves. I said that I needed it for a project (which isn't a lie if you consider life being a project. You may be able to do the same with your library!
Sorry to get off topic but whenever wild carrot comes up I feel the need to chime in. There is a deadly plant that looks almost identical to wild carrot. So if you're gonna eat it, please be real sure that you ID it correctly.
I wasn't sure if I should make a whole new thread about the following, or if too many offshoot hugel-threads have been happening. Anyhow...
So I've got 6 fairly large hugelbeds, 50' long X 5' wide X 3-4' tall. The beds run north-south. I'm going to plant fruit trees in the beds (sweet cherry, peaches) and I'm wondering whether its better to plant on the east or west side of the beds. I should mention that in my zone, sweet cherries are pretty fragile. I think most would consider them unable to grow in zone 5a...but they don't know about using hugelkultur, ponds, and rocks....
My initial instinct says to plant on the east side, so that they get the earlier sun warming the soil and lower trunk. It would also free up more space on the sunnier west side of the bed for vegetables etc. However, my instincts are often completely wrong so I thought I'd throw this question out there.
But then I also recall that many types of fruit trees should be planted on north or west facing slopes in my zone to cause the trees to take longer to break their buds and leaf out in the very early spring. This is because we get frosts in may and often in early june which could kill early bud breaks.
It would be ideal to plant on both sides, that way I could fit more trees in because I could use the 5' width of the bed as part of the distance between trees, if they alternate between east and west.
I've been collecting bricks and cinder blocks in the hopes of using it to build...something.
We're looking for people to partner with, who would build small one room living structures that we would rent out. We wouldn't necessarily be able to pay a wage up front and would ideally have some sort of profit share arrangement with the builders. How does that sound to you?
JIGGY wrote: I am from Quebec and Get down to -30C - defenately need to keep your chickens inside
We had our chickens in open air all winter and it gets -20 C and colder on a regular basis.
Their house had two parts. They lived underneath an extension on our home, with nothing but chicken wire and hay bales stacked against the wire, two bales thick. There was about 6 inches between the bales and the side of the house which was completely open air, to allow light and airflow in. They also had the run of an 8' X 6' unheated greenhouse which was placed up against (but not attached to) our home. There was a small hole cut in the plastic of the greenhouse to allow them to run in or out. Most of the time they spent in the colder area under the house, not in the greenhouse.
The chickens did just fine, kept their weight and vigor up all winter, with no heat lamps.
As for your polyculture...that currant bush will need a lot of pruning to prevent it from taking over that whole spot. You may want to consider pruning it to grow as a cordon, which is basically one vertical shoot.
If (more like when) you get baby runner raspberries coming up, you can use the young tender shoots as an asparagus substitute, or use the leaves in a salad or dry them for tea.
Lambs Quarters aka Wild Spinach came up like crazy in our garden last year. It was probably the number one 'weed', second to grass. So instead of yanking it all out we made a pesto and sold it at markets, using our own garlic and marjoram. We used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts, which we will be growing ourselves this year. No possibility of home grown olives unfortunately.
The pesto sold fairly consistently and was well received by our customers. We gave out samples on nacho chips, which really helped sales.
I know of a thick patch of fiddleheads and nettles which spreads several acres. The fiddleheads are an easy sell but the nettles...not so much. I've only tried selling to restaurants. My strategy was to give out samples. Nobody I solicited to wanted to buy any even then.
I've seen the video where Skeeter talks about selling nettles but I'm wondering how he markets them, and who he's marketing to (too?). My impression was that selling to medicinal companies meant you get low end prices that aren't worth the trouble unless you're going extremely large scale.
Check this link regarding nitrogen fixation...Under the 'Progress' heading, it states that poplar can fix nitrogen. Buuut, they say it fixes within the stem, and mentions nothing of root nodules. Which is not to say that it doesn't release nitrogen from its roots...
Willowdale; I'm not sure about black locust specifically but I recall reading somewhere that most nitrogen fixing woody plants need full sun to fix significant amount of nitrogen. Can anyone else attest to this? Just wanted to mention that since you were thinking of planting them on the shady sides of your garden. I guess maybe by the time they get shaded out, your forest garden might not need them for their fertility anymore. (depending how long that takes)
Here's a link to a list of trees with their BTU's, relative heat, and several other parameters. Nothing about whether they are fast growing but thats easily determined through other means, or commonly known. http://mb-soft.com/juca/print/firewood.html
What about planting birch? or Manitoba maple aka box elder? Why not a mix of several?
Troy, I don't want to slam the breaks on this thread but wanted to offer my experience with sheet mulching. In my experience you don't need the weed barrier if you put on at least 8 inches of leaves/straw/hay in the sheet mulch. I've done a side by side comparison with and without cardboard and the difference was minimal. Since then I've switched almost completely to NOT using cardboard and I only have to weed beds every 6 weeks on average. Which was the same when I used cardboard. Unless you can get it easily I wouldn't bother.
Somewhere out there in interspace there's a document with diagrams that Fukuoka drew to illustrate and explain what he meant about natural forms and pruning etc. I found it once but am having no luck getting a link to the webpage. Anyone else have the url by chance?
Maybe I missed a post but I don't think the agroforestry side of this coin has been mentioned. I think the usual way of planting timber stands could see much improvement.
Creating a timber stand on contour with a mix instead of monoculture, adding in nitrogen fixing trees and/or understory plants. While waiting for the timber to mature you could grow a crop (or several crops) in the understory on a massive scale. (eg. wild leeks, currants, gooseberries, ostrich ferns, wild ginger, herbs etc)
I just wanted to ask; regarding the high price (12.50/lb) potatoes that Paul was talking about (arbitrary number or not) I used to work with an organic farm who sold quarts of fingerling potatoes (which weigh about a pound) for $6 at Toronto markets, with only a few people batting an eye. Do you actually know of people able to get 12.50/lb Paul? Just curious, cuz thats like $2 per potato...
And I highly suggest doing a plant inventory of the field before mowing whether you chop or not...you might find something which is better left standing, or that you'd like to transplant somewhere else.
Straylight, have you identified what plants are in this field? Generally I think leaving land alone is alright but exceptions are there. Do you have the means to cut the vegetation back? Mowing it once or twice a year and leaving the trimmings where they lay could speed up succession.
Michigan Girl: take a look at Sepp Holzers video = Sepp Holzer - Permaculture - Farming with Terraces and Raised Beds (Part 2 of 4). At 6 mins 9 secs into the video theres a shot of trees planted in some hugelkultur beds. They are right on the edge of the bed. Not saying this is the be all end all but Sepp is probably one of the foremost experts about this subject alive today.
My intuition though, says 'wouldn't planting them at the edge of the paths be bad since paths tend to be more compacted?' From what I've learned about tree roots, they do tend to steer towards looser soil, so maybe they just grow into the bed and anchor there.
I wonder how he harvests from the side of the tree that faces towards the middle of hte bed. Are they dwarf trees that he can reach from a ladder on the path? Does he walk on the middle top part of the hugelbed? Anyone know?
Paul, I see some faults in the freaky big bucks plan that I wanted to mention. I think it can work well in some cases but...
Awareness around polycultures and the superiority to monoculture produce within the general public (around here at least) is fringe at best. And even among that fringe, only a percentage would be willing or able to pay a premium beyond organic. I have had many conversations with people and overwhelmingly I hear ' I want to buy organic as much as possible but its so expensive.' There is a culture that is willing to pay the premiums but I don't think that crowd is big enough to support to many farmers.
With promotion, advertising, scientific evidence and such the public opinion could switch, and is slowly doing so I think but still, with people tightening their wallets and the age of convenience tightening its grip, I don't see polyculture premiums as a viable option for the majority of farmers.
And only a handful of farmers per region could swing the staycation angle.
In our municipality we're able to build without permits IF the building is under 109 square feet and doesn't have a kitchen. Thats small but big enough for a couple to sleep in. One could build several of these and have a central kitchen/bathroom facility, thereby only requiring one permit for several rental buildings. I know that this won't work in every region but it may be viable for some who didn't think about this way of getting around so many permits.
Just wanted to put that out there as a possibility.
Not that this is conclusive but...I occasionally find worms in my potted plants (with perlite in the mix), alive and well.
I'd stay away from perlite use beyond potting mixes though. It's a mined aggregate...not so green IMO. You're on the right track with the bark mulch. Have you thought about bio char? there's info about it on this site.
I'm wondering if any of you have a system to keep track of cost of production for gardens with polycultures/companion planting arrangements. It doesn't seem quite as easy as keeping track of COP for monocultured beds. Any leads would be greatly appreciated. Timesheet templates especially.
That made me chuckle soil. Well, I'm down for working my ass off. Two of the others would be seasonal volunteers so thats hard to answer. One of our off farm partners recently retired and I imagine that he'll be able to help out on at least a part time basis, lets say 10-20 hours a week average. Hard to say though. We also have 3 others who live on the farm who could help a bit but two have off farm jobs, and the other is 75.