This is a difficult problem I face myself at home and working on a public food forest site. This is one of the reasons I mix in as many diverse native wildflowers and attractive edibles as I can into my cover crop mixes. Diversity helps make sure something is in bloom for as much of the year as possible, and it is amazing how few flowers you need at any given point to give it a "meadow" feel rather than a weed patch.
I feel your pain on the general problem. I recently learned my wife hates the aesthetics of straw mulch, right after I spread a bunch when I found a good deal for organic straw, had a truck available, rain was coming, and I had soil to cover.
So much of nature becomes infinitely more beautiful when we understand how everything is a note in the greater symphony, but I can't make people listen.
Thanks for doing the research I should have done myself before saying anything. I always noticed an faint odd chemical smell to the water, which was part of my previous assumption. Maybe it’s just the plastic of the tank.
On a more productive note, I have been refilling French drain trenches with woody debris instead of gravel, of course where well away from a massive structure you don’t want to settle upon the decomposed wood eventually. I go with minimally sloped trenches that start at the overflow of my duck pond, and divert the water to catchment basins filled with woody debris and topped with woodchips between hugel beds before it flows off my property. It’s a bit like keylining but can be done with a shovel or small trench digger in small and irregular sites. I can now hold and slowly absorb about 7500gal off rain that’s become duck pond tea. We have yet to have to runoff water yet this wet season, but it’s been relatively dry (17” since oct 1). The soil just builds pretty passively now. I also have to water only in getting plants established during dry periods. If nothing else, I have much less flooding now and the system has held up to a 10” day of rain.
I bet someone here can explain how dehumidifiers work like Dan Ackroyd as Jimmy Carter on SNL, but my understanding is that they can leave chemicals in their water reservoirs. I very well could be wrong, but I assumed this is why every one I've ever had has very clear warnings not to drink it, and that's why I don't use it on edibles:
"urban hack--in the city we do stupid stuff like run a dehumidifier all day in the basement. I'm sure country folks had better solutions that didn't lead to vast mold for centuries and we've forgotten them, right?
And then it's someone's chore to empty the water every night.
But, that water has some other advantages over other urban ways of making you sad:
--it's there, in water form, unlike the humidity, which you could maybe capture tiny amounts of with rocks. if you had rocks. and you don't. "
I can understand wanting to "starve the beast" having worked for the federal government and seeing people being lazier than I thought possible in jobs that mainly entailed hiking and having fun teaching and helping people in the woods. However, as long as the beast is still alive and so massive, I say we milk 'er for all she's got and feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and make the blind see.
I am sorry to hear about your misfortune, but admire your attempt. When I worked for the Student Conservation Association's Desert Restoration Wilderness Crew, I had a girlfriend on the Barstow based crew. She was once pelted with stones by local Barstow kids on her way home from the grocery store to the crew's house. She got away but her head was bleeding badly and she likely had a concussion. When she called the police their response was an adapted quote from Apocalypse Now, "Welcome to the asshole of California."
Green onions are pretty easy, I get mine out of our local organic grocer's leftovers, take the greens if they are good and replant the base 1.5". It was probably the first veggie I may never have to buy again and I use it daily.
It is very easy to end up speaking in acronyms when we try to get across complex concepts that we work with all the time. I hit this problem all the time as a teacher, especially when working with students for brief periods. Even as someone who has listened to hundreds of Paul’s podcasts, I was half way thru the PEP one and still missing stuff he was saying as I was trying to work out the acronym in my head. I am also drowning in a sea of acronyms at work, so maybe he’s mentioned it enough that most people who aren’t cerebrally saturated with them would remember PEP, or VORP, but if the book is for the beginner it would help to spell it out. One way to help overcome acronym illiteracy would be to make sure each component part is explained in the prior sections in such a way as to make their integration seem the obvious next step. In the table of contents this would be harder. I am bad at simplifying things myself, I always over complicate, so maybe I need to stop typing now!
I used to feel similarly about himalayan blackberry to english ivy. I now have come to embrace its independent productivity, and where I want to get rid of it I've found it to be useful hung or woven into fences I want barbed for animals, or dried on a fence to kill it and placed at the base of hugel beds to reduce gopher damage for a couple years when trees are most vulnerable (got the idea from Sepp Holzer). I wouldn't mind some pigs to help me get them out where I need to do so, but don't have the land. I also am looking to try Mollison's description of the old english way of starting apples amongst brambles, where you thrash out there with a sapling tall enough to get some light or a form of Holzer's approach by tossing out numerous overripe fruits or juice/wine must (seeds and skins) into a bramble. The sapling will shoot up above the canes, that first year and send out branches just above them to shade them out thereafter. Ideally, you briefly let pigs go at the blackberries and tree fruit in the first couple years of light fruiting and they tear up the canes pretty well, but you don't let them destroy the small tree's roots. Then when the trees are big enough to handle them, cattle will clear the rest of the canes as they eat the fallen fruit, and you supposedly have a naturally, perfectly trained (a response to competing with blackberries) and pruned horizontal branches just above the cattle's reach. That all being said, I have done weeks of pigs' work grubbing blackberries.
This topic came to mind listening to Paul's recent chapter read about bee keeping based on the Song of Increase. Particularly the analogy between the individual bee being rejected and giving up at old age or sign disease with the overstressed hives collapsing or just "going away" for the good of the species. As I listened, it brought to mind how my many childhood concussions seem to have affected my internal monologue and depression, and how the neurological effects of concussions, trauma, or mental illness seem to have similarities to the self-abort mechanism in bees and their colonies. Maybe this is an evolved response that was at some point for the good of our species...when we are broken by trauma or disease, or rejected enough by society, we tend remove ourselves one way or the other, and often do so with the thought we are making others better off. I think going off and homesteading or hiking for a living seem to be a better alternatives to the others that come to mind! Wish those little old bees could do the same. Hope this doesn't trigger anyone, and I wish you all well.
Well Greg, I hope we can enjoy our cheating on our subsidized roads using subsidized oil obtained through subsidized military exertion of power while drinking subsidized potable water. Many people, ourselves likely included, live on land obtained and settled by predecessors through the Homestead or Graves Acts, which was a subsidized land grab/give away that required the subsidized support of the military to protect settlers as they stole native people's land and resources. Also, most of the logging of 96% of our pre existing old growth forests was done through subsidized roads, infrastructure, and this may back up your point, a whole lot of fraud using the aforementioned land Acts to conglomerate land ownership into barons' hands. We are almost all cheaters by your definition, which may be fair, and may be part of our societal ennui and angst.
What I mean by subsidy in this case to mitigate fire hazards while improving soil and water retention is to permit waivers for the use of public resources (woody debris that also poses a fire hazard), and the allowance of profit (monetarily or indirectly) off the repurposing of those public resources. It would even be worthwhile for collectives, whether independent or local government agencies representing the public, to invest in a large scale chippers, portable sawmills, or other equipment to help those without immense capital to both assist and benefit from fuels management. As you may know large scale chippers cost 6 figures. If we help more people make money off of ladder fuels, they will disappear remarkably quickly, and many hands make lighter work. Also, small scale subsidies like food stamps and unemployment insurance are recycled into the economy much more quickly and repeatedly, making them more effective stimulus of economic growth, so I am advocating helping more homeowner and small business (ie landscapers) be part of a fuels management-soil-water retention strategy. This is a form of subsidization, just a better one than we use to facilitate timber companies robbing the public and future. It would also be undoubtedly cheaper than funding firefighting and rebuilding after inevitable fires exacerbated by our logging/firefighting hist. Subsidies lowering the capital bar for engaging in an industry such as fuels management- may be prone to abuse, but so are almost every aspect of government or any collective endeavors. My main point is if we allow and show people how to profit off an overabundant resource like ladder fuels, we will be amazed by how fast they disappear.
Also, in California, at least my area, a 20$ permit allows you to collect 4cords of wood. Its supposed to be dead and down but I doubt that's well policed. I haven't done this, but would be very easy to repeatedly collect 4 cords a day of "firewood" that may be just for chips or hugels, and never get caught or questioned.
Jocelyn Campbell wrote:I keep seeing this - does this method help?
This seems to be doing the same thing the Fox Walk, Deer Ears, owl eyes, wolf nose, raccoon touch activity I have done with dozens of outdoor education classes, and it consistently correlates with better behavior, more relaxed but engaged students, better observations and connecting of ideas, and generally better learning and experiential outcomes for students and myself as a teacher. I learned this from a wilderness therapist who works primarily with women with ptsd, and she explained that this form of moving meditation had analogues in both Lakota Sioux and Zen buddhist cultures, and was proven to activate similar parts of the brain as sitting meditation. It is also a great way to introduce observations that lead to inquiry, whether scientific, spiritual, social or philosophical.
To all who are suffering, I feel for you. If my feeling bad for you could help I’d do it, but it won’t so it may help remember that when you are empathizing to a self destructive extent. I have found a great deal of solace in philosophy, especially the stoics and transcendental idealists. Spinoza most of all has helped with depression. He was an excommunicated 16thcentury Dutch Jew (tough place to find oneself), who was called “The Philosopher” by Hegel, was a favorite of Einstein’s (he said “I believe in the God of Spinoza”, which is essentially the singularity of all time and space happening all at once), and he inspired Arne Naess’ philosophy of Deep Ecology. What I remember best is his argument that “hilaritas”, or an almost laughing Buddha like attitude, is always justifiable. This is from someone with a very tough life story. Of course it’s hard when our brain chemistry is off, but remember that is does absolutely no practical good for anyone for you to feel bad. Go ahead and feel bad if you do, happens to me all the time, and feeling bad about being depressed is obviously not the point! But remember that you deserve to be happy, it only helps others for you to be happy, and you are the only person who can give the best version of yourself to the world, and that best version of you is happy! Now back to my winter long seasonal depression🧐.
This is where we should be subsidizing timber companies (rather than helping them log the closest stuff to old growth they can get) to do less economically rewarding thinning and chipping, then make it easier for the m or someone else to sell or spread those chips in deforested areas in need of erosion control or soil remediation. I think my first post on permies was about our need for “a great mulching” project on the order of 30s CCC works or greater. This would pay for itself in fire risk mediation, water retention and soil building. Also, felling dead and unhealthy trees close to on contour with the crown behind another stump or trunk would create quick check dams that would become essentially hugel beds that hold moisture and soil, dampening future fire runs up slope and stopping falling flaming debris that causes “j-runs” of fire on slopes that are a major hazards and causes of spread.
I am currently working on teaming with our local fire departments and landscapers to divert woody debris that would otherwise be burned to soil building on our Crescent City Food Forest site and other garden projects in the area.
Following from what you write I have a couple more questions: who are the projected end users of the food forest, what do they want to get out of it, and do you have strategies for getting them invovled from the start? In my experience that is probably the most important aspect to get right for the long term success of a food forest.
Great question! It took awhile to get an idea of what the answer was, and I just recently have seen the budget up close. My understanding of the goal of the grant is to improve access to fresh foods in this regional "food desert," and by doing so improve health outcomes like obesity and diabetes rates etc. Therefore the intended recipients of food would be our local food pantries serving those in need of food assistance, the adjacent College of the Redwoods and Del Norte High School students, as well as volunteers and interns as much as possible. Educational opportunities have been welcomed to be developed by the college, and I am trying to cultivate more partnerships with other local schools. We have monthly volunteer days and have been able to employ a couple interns year round part time. I also hope to teach a PDC at the site and teach more for the college as my schedule allows in order to cultivate more home grown support for the project. My master's is in Adventure Education with a focus on Wilderness Service Learning, but I have never led a project quite like this before and am finding the gardening of gardeners and architect of a design curriculum to be as important and challenging as the plants, fungi and earthworks.
The Crescent City Food Forest is a project I have been helping work on since June 2017. We are far from done, but this thread will share our progress so far. I welcome feedback, ideas and hopefully getting the word out here will facilitate connections with other permies in our region and beyond. I came into the project a couple years in and did not make the original design or do the hard work of acquiring grant funding, and in general all credit for our progress should be shared with many partners on this project.
Those deserving credit include the Tolowa Dee-ni Nation for getting the grant and sharing their land; our local Community Food Council, and the Family Resource Center of the Redwoods and it’s employees for managing the grant and getting many great things going in this community and on this site; The College of the Redwoods for hosting and accommodating many of the site’s projects and partners; and, the Youth Training Academy, including its staff and participants.
When I came onto the project it was initially for 5 weeks in the summer of 2017 to just help lead the Youth Training Academy Food Forest program, technically as a part time faculty member for the College of the Redwoods. I was invited to apply to do so after leading a hugelkulture potluck workshop at the Crescent City Family Resource Center kids garden. This is a good example of how it can pay off to volunteer and engage with our community.
The previous attempts to plant trees on the 1.5 acre food forest site had failed due primarily to immense hardscape runoff from above the site compounding poor drainage on the site and its compacted, leached and generally abused soil. We had less than .5% organic matter and the topsoil had been stripped and a stream diverted off the site decades before in using the site as a landing pad for heavy equipment to build the College and adjacent Del Norte High School. Obviously, this was not an ideal place to grow most fruit trees or proceed as they had initially planned. However, it’s location is adjacent to the schools and therefore is a great opportunity to engage the students, faculty and our community. It's problems also present a fairly extreme example of many of the challenges people face in gardening in this region, and therefore a template to demonstrate solutions and show how we can work with the nature of a sight.
My first reaction to the surveying the site was, “wow this soil has been beat up, and it really wants to be a wetland again.” The 14acres of hardscape running 386,000gal of water per inch of rain onto the site indicated this to be nature’s inclination as well. This had also caused leaching of any water soluble nutrients (N, Ph, Ca) and left a toxic level of Magnesium in the subsoil. While it would clearly be easier to grow a food forest on a more ideal site, I also saw a place in dire need of restoration. In trying to respect and harness the wetland nature of the site while achieving the goals of the clients, my thoughts turned to chinampas. We could utilize the immense amounts of woody debris around the area to build hugelkulture beds above grade, and have paths upon trenches filled with woody debris, or seasonal water features below the water table. This water table could get up above 40-50% of the sight during winter, and within 2ft of highest parts of the intended planting area. A hugel-chinampas approach had worked well at my property with some similar challenges to the site, but on a smaller scale and with a lot more organic matter and trees to start with. I also could keep animals at my place much more easily than at this site, where it has not been an option so far but it is a goal. Anyhow, I met with all the people in charge I could, who were many and from various organizations, and asked what the wanted and what their resources were. I drew up a design plan to overlay on their initial plans that had not worked thus far to be able to come up with a course curriculum for the YTA class I was going to teach. This of course has had to be adapted and melded with others' ideas, budgets, schedules, and the reality on the ground.
When I came on to the project, the site had just been ripped and limed, and a fence just put in. This was done against my advice but it was not my decision to make at the time. The fence was built well but simply done at a subideal stage in the process, and was not tall enough to prevent deer. It has functioned well as a trellis but also impeded earthworks and transport of materials. I guess I can't complain, as I have been paid for many hours of going around that fence. I also have learned even more clearly about the importance of planning for accessibility. As for the ripping, it was just done without fully utilizing the use of machinery to key-line and we were not prepared to compost-inoculate, mulch or seed the site right after. So I broadcast a few large bags of wild bird seed to get something reestablished that spring and try to reinoculate the site with wildlife, a la Bill Mollison.
We got very lucky with a great team of YTA interns that first summer I was on the project (2017). First we had to finish the irrigation pipe trench, and I was able to get approval to make it more multifunctional by [very close to] leveling it out with a slight slope towards the low point in the middle of the field, laying 4" drain tile/pipe, stuffing the trench with woody debris, and topping it with woodchips for a path. After this, we got a proper cover crop mix and straw mulch on the entire sight. Then we built a key-hole hugel bed. Around the fence-line we planted native, edible and other useful vining plants for a hedge row. We also spread voluminous amounts of compost and woodchips, primarily focusing on the higher points to weep fertility downhill. We also planted strawberries, beans, and greens on the hugel beds. All the while interns were learning about the academic and theoretical background reasoning for what we were doing in the classroom. Volunteers also independently built an outdoor gathering area with shade and seating.
Over the winter, I was employed part time with the help of interns and volunteers, we built another hugelkulture bed and started one more large one, planted garlic, potatoes and other winter veggies, spread at least 100cubic yds of woodchips, established trails, improved the stability of our drainage points into the downhill stream for habitat and erosion control, planted a 35-40 species cover crop mix in spring, and prepared for the 2018 YTA program that summer.
Last summer (2018) we continued to work on improving the soil and preparing the sight for tree planting. We finished a large (1000sq ft) hugel bed. We also filled in and finished planting the hedgerow. We installed drip irrigation in strategic locations around the sight (mostly at high points with compost around them to weep tea downhill). Unfortunately we had to also weed over an acre of glandweed that most likely came in on straw mulch. We helped with the completion of the 1200sq ft hoop house on the site. We also got the adjacent school to stop spraying roundup again (they'd stopped for years and did it only once, but it was right during the YTA training around the kids).
We also spread 40cu yds of compost and at least an equal volume of woodchips. After lessons on companion planting and garden design, the interns planted out the hugel beds with squash, beans, sunflowers, corn, greens, herbs, and flowers. Many of these thrived beyond my expectation, and even the sickly tomatoes donated to us potbound and planted in July even grew well. We have harvested many large and small squash, beans and greens through the fall.
This fall I came onto the project full time as the primary design and implementation person, and we dove into necessary earthworks to balance the wetland nature of the sight with the clients/grant's goal of planting non-wetland trees. We finished a hugel bed around the gathering space with a trellis/arbor, and planted it with greens, peas, blueberries, thimbleberries, salmonberries, and kiwis. We planted 25 fruit trees, 40 or so blue berries, and a couple dozen grapes and currants. We had an excavator dig out a hardscape water diversion trench at a minimal grade (to function something like a swale but in a constrained location), which ends in a basin wetland area with a level sill that leads into the adjacent pine-spruce forest. We have filled this back in with woody debris to slow/spread, aerate, filter and establish other beneficial biological functions before the water runs off. On the berm we planted as 40+ species mix of pacific nw wildflowers, the HSU erosion control mix, peaceful valley soil building mix, and wild bird seed. We also dug a woody debris filled french drain around the hoophouse and ran this trench out as far as we feasibly could on contour to function something like a keyline. We then spent a few weeks gathering free and donated woody debris for more hugelkulture beds (about 4000sq ft of bed's worth), as well as 50+ cu yds more wood chips to spread. Finally, just before Thanksgiving, I decided to run the excavator myself (I have done this before for the NPS and am competent, but the previous work was near a city water main in tight quarters that I wanted a full time driver on), and we got from 25%-90% done on the next 4000sq ft of hugel beds, which are in suntrap crescents that also correlate with our drainage management strategy. We then cover cropped anything bare, and mulched our tails off in the first, unseasonably late, heavy rain. Most of this fall's cover crop has came up much better than previous seasons, and the soil is clearly getting much better. We are also getting at least a dozen mushroom species popping up, especially around the wood filled trench. This fall I have also been working on balancing our drainage with water holding by making it travel and slow down strategically with woody debris and stone gabbions and level sills.
I will attempt below to put together a timeline of pictures and videos of what we have done so far:
It really depends on when you get your rain, as deciduous trees grow better where you have wet summers and cold winters, evergreens where summers are dry and winters wet and mild. The reasons seem obvious.
Conifers are diverse in their habitat and evolution over hundreds of millions of years on this planet, so I hesitate to say anything categorical but...
Conifers are generally shaped as they are (generally conical) to absorb light at lower winter angles, thus utilizing their evergreen nature. Many do have shapes and branch flexibility to shed extremely heavy snows (yellow cedar, subalpine fir). It would be unlikely however that conifers generally harmed the water table if the place holding the greatest salmon habitat on earth also hosts the largest and most abundant conifers. Salmon require abundadnt cold, clean, rushing aerated water that conifers tend to provide best in climates like the Pacific NW. However, this is a fairly rare climate with mild wet winters and dry summers that favor conifers' height and ability to grow just as fast in January as in June, while deciduous trees can never overgrow them and require prolific moss protection and humidity to grow during dry NW summers. Generally mixed evergreen-deciduous forests are the most robust, but evergreens capture moisture and sunlight when deciduous trees cannot and can hold vastly more biomass and therefore water in their ecosystems (Noss, Redwood Ecology, 1998). When referring to peak capacities for forests to positively shape the water cycle, many of the facts cited by Bill Mollison in the big black book are about redwood and other coniferous forests.
All those sources on ivy are from a very different climate and ecosystem to my experience in the Pacific NW. I am inclined to want to believe any organism can be symbiotic, but I have seen ivy overtake the understory and bring down limbs that pull catastrophic amounts of bark off the trunk. I would bet it provides wintry berries for some birds but English ivy is a mother Tucker and I will give it no quarter.
This seems like a way to achieve a goal my little brother and I had while thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. How could we improve our daily mileage covered by eliminating time-consuming and food wasting bowel movements...we called it "operating at 100% efficiency"
It may not be ideal aesthetically, but would driving some stakes into the ground at the base and pulling heavy fencing like cattle panels along the stone be an option? It would function like a gabbion fence, holding the slope for the life of the wire. Not a permanent or ideal solution, but would keep it from collapsing for awhile with fairly low cost. You could grow vines a climate zone or a more above your location on the fence to make it look better and stack functions.
English ivy is one of the few vines I know of that actually parasitize their host tree, sending roots into the cambium to sap their nutrients and water [edit 5/25/19: I was mistaken about the cause of death and injury to the host tree. The roots are merely holdfasts and do not sap nutrients and water. Instead, they cause the bark, cambium and ultimately the trunk to rot by preventing airflow and sun being able to reach the tree]. They also make the tree more flammable and prone to canopy burns, and ivy smoke is especially toxic. For these reasons and more, my understanding is it is illegal to sell in west coast states.
It’s everywhere in the NW, it kills large trees, it is toxic for virtually everything to eat, is noxious to burn, and is an allergen to me. I have used it’s vines to make junk pole fence straps but even that they aren’t great for. I know there are several British isle ivies, but I call them all english so I can feel like William Wallace as I unleash my rage upon them.
It looks like you have some good varieties Rebecca, well done. I have a good friend with a vineyard in the Chehalem Mtn AVA near Newberg who has a great abundance of cuttings of over a dozen grape varietals (pinot noir, gris, chard, mueller, riesling, several table grapes), old varietals of caneberries, and old varietals of fruit trees and walnuts. He may like to trade with you you're interested, and when I visit I will try to get in touch and see if you'd like any of what I have.
I got most of those from having read dog training books, but appreciated how amazing this sweet boy is when I realized he has almost none of those concerning behaviors. He does the last behavior with other males but never initiates aggression beyond that. I attribute it to being born and raised to 12 weeks with many other dogs and farm animals, not my own training at all. Praise Wilson!
I would look at your evaporation-precipitation ratio to answer the ground level vs trench question. Another way to look at it is whether or not consistent drainage or soil moisture is more lacking in your system. Hugelkulture will both aid drainage and moisture retention either way. Building it up from ground level will help drain your beds better while digging it down into a trench will add to moisture collection and retention. Where I am with heavy winter rainfall (100+” some years) but almost no summer rain, I still go up without trenching first. Instead I trench under the adjacent path to get soil and aid drainage further, then refill it with woody debris and top it with woodchips.
In the photo attached I had a French drain pipe run through the trench that carries my duck pond/chicken run runoff through between the hugel beds. This makes even my paths productive, soil building and root supporting elements, but in hindsight I would forgo the pipe.
I would move the pile if you have good sun/access/logistical reasons. I’d also deposit my wood piles where you want future hugel beds, but not go deeper than the first layer before adding soil so you don’t get big dry air pockets like I have found when piling the wood layers too deep.
Manzanita are the native firebreak trees of the west. That’s why I understand it to be a 30,000$ fine for cutting them. Feel their bark and it’s cold on 100F days. They do not require irrigation. In fact any fire resistant tree would require less or no irrigation, though a dam/pond and swale that you could flood a hillside would be a key fire strategy.
I asked why fisheries don’t set salmon max sizes, and got laughed out of the fisheries biologists’ meeting for NW California. Despite this following the head biologist pointing out how size is exponentially correlated with egg production, I guess they figured it was too much to ask of “sportsmen”.
I don't have enough data to make any sweeping conclusions from my own experience, but I had very good strawberry production the year after heavily mulching with woodchips (inoculated with duck pond water to emulate some of the back to eden chicken processing). In subsequent years I have been inconsistent with the deep mulch due to time and availiability of chips, but I do try to always have the ground covered by organic matter. I always have enough strawberries, but I do think that I have had less when I mulched less. It may be water stress (they are not irrigated anymore due to being under grapes that now produce).
I have actually buried my strawberries in woodchips about 6” deep in the late fall as Paul Gautschi (Back to Eden) suggests, and like he said it did naturally thin back my older plants and selected for vigorous younger runners that produced well the next year. In a forest strawberries would be periodically covered in duff or leaves and have to survive as a species somehow, and this seems to emulate that process. I would bet the main caveat would be that it has to be coarse enough for the plant to work a runner through.
I think you are going to want to research coast Redwoods and Douglas fir morphology, as these are the tallest species we have records for. The tallest living tree, a 379ft Redwood, is less than ten miles from my house. The tallest tree ever felled and fairly reliably measured was 426ft, in western Washington during the logging boom. We have evidence of coast Redwoods twice the volume of the largest current coast redwood trees, which would make it half again larger than the Sherman tree (a sequoia).
Coast Redwoods trees are generally at their tallest relatively early in life (300-500yrs), as they shoot up to join the canopy around them and compete for light, and as the go above the canopy of older, weathered trees around them their tops get shorn off by wind, lightning or dessicate in the wind. “He who sticks his head up above the crowd will be the first to be decapitated” (old Norwegian saying). So generally the largest trees are of similar heights in a given grove. Where the worlds tallest tree lives, the canopy averages 325ft. A good question was raised in “why would trees need to get so tall?” (800ft) In the case of Redwoods, they grow around several of the other tallest species on earth: Doug fir (1st-3rd depending on how you measure and consider old logging accounts); Sitka Spruce (4th); western hemlock (7th). If it were college football, Redwoods would be like Alabama in the SEC, competing with the best in an environment that is ideal for growing conifers. For non US folk, coastal Northern California is the Champions League of tall trees. Western hemlocks can reach 270ft tall but have to be the most shade tolerant tree in North America to grow as midstory tree here. So your biggest trees are going to need light competition to drive them to adapt and evolve into the absurd obelisks of your imagination. Another thing to consider is that the tallest and oldest trees are all perfectly straight up and down. Any lean gets impossible to hold up with such height and mass. So your super tall trees would benefit from an evolved self balancing strategy.
Also, cork screwing of wood makes trees stronger in the wind and spiraling cambium/xylem eases the strain of siphoning upwards of 4000lbs/500gal of water up 350+ft.
Another factor in height of all the tallest trees is that they all tend to grow in places where ridgelines run perpendicular to prevailing windstorms. The largest trees in the Redwoods and Olympics mostly grow in valleys that run perpendicular to the Southwesterly storms.
They also grow on 1000yr+ terraces, where only once in a millennia floods barely reach, but in doing so drop immense volumes of sediment to fertilize their growth. They are close enough to constant water flow for their furthest roots (75-200ft from trunk) to reach the water table. The largest redwoods also tend to be surrounded by three sides by a stream, safely up on a terrace on a peninsula at a river bend that drops silt or a between two streams at a confluence.
I hypothesize a positive feedback loop occurs in these places supporting the largest, longest lived trees. Over millenia, these largest trees are especially effective in stabilizing their environment, even the geology and climate around them. In the case of extensive tracts of old coast Redwoods, they even make the area invulnerable to catastrophic fire.
This place also has the highest biomass/acre on earth (on land at least). And these trees are growing faster now than at any point in their lives. Redwood trunks only die “of old age” when their heartwood overtakes the cambium layer. This happens because heartwood increases at a slightly higher exponential rate than the sapwood and cambium. This limits a single trunk’s lifespan to 2000-2500yrs, but the root system of coast Redwoods survive indefinitely and reiterate new trunks from roots, burls and even branches of the fallen trunk. If in a redwood forest, look for trees of similar size/age in lines and circles, as these are likely all the same tree. Like fingers on a giant giant’s hand, and you are standing in the palm.
The redwood forest’s limiting growth factor is nitrogen fixated mostly by fungus, so nitrogen and carbon cycling is also at peak efficiency with the extremely slow decomposition of redwood. A loss of salmon nutrients has also likely slowed their growth rates. I would bet your 800ft trees would also have to get some anadromous fish feeding them ocean-based nutrients.
As much as the biology and morphology will be interesting to make sense of, I think your outlines forestry model would bring up fascinating socio-economic-political dynamics. It is hard for people who move here to the Redwoods because of the forests' beauty and benefits to understand how our predecessors rationalized the plundering and bargain basement sell off of the most productive and abundant ecosystem on earth to bring us to our current economically depressed state. The Talowa and Yurok lived here for upwards of ten thousand years at a higher population density than we have currently. They left us the world's greatest forests and immense salmon runs. How and why did our predecessors destroy it so quickly? How would they answer their grandchildren’s questions and complaints about the economic and ecological mess left behind? How would a society like that you describe for your book which has figured out that cutting too many trees is a bad idea rationalize cutting one of the lost magnificent living things on earth, and for whose benefit? Would it be tied to hospital and school funding like it is now?