I know its hard to say but I'm looking for ballparks here. I've talked with a nursery guy and he said 'into the hundreds, save for cherries, and that the most labourious part is the harvesting. And of course there's the thinning of fruit, and the fact that I won't be mowing grass but instead will be planting cover crops/mulching under driplines. Another factor to consider is that I'd be spending about half my time of the season with other crops like self seeding/perennial veggies, mushrooms. Since the trees and most of the crops will be in the same areas, ground maintenance will be shared by both. It will mostly be harvesting and pruning that will compound between all the crops.
I'd like to have staggered harvests so that in any given two week period from spring to fall, I can expect a fruit crop to be ready. For the purposes
I'm thinking of dwarf and/or semi dwarf varieties of apple, pear (asian and european) and plum as maincrops, and cherry, peach, apricot, and
I suppose it may be too simple a question to get a real answer but I thought I'd put it out there.
So at any one period, how many trees could a 4 person crew handle harvesting. 100, 1000?
I've been reading through the entire first volume of David Jacke's 'Edible Forest Gardens' and on page 268-271 he talks about patch dynamics and says:
"Designing in patches increases diversity in our gardens by helping us create lumpy texture in the aboveground architecture."
He sites the comparison photos on page 106 as a visual example of patchiness. From my view, the patchy picture (an appalachian cove forest) has "dense shrub and herb vegetation in the foreground, and lack thereof at left and farther back. Also note the variation in density of the tree trunks..."
He then has a picture of Robert Harts forest garden to illustrate split pea soup and says "Plants of many heights grow together, but every layer is equally packed throughout most of the garden. This reduces lumpy texture and air circulation and increases pest and disease potential and the general hassle of getting around..."
I think Marina put it simply: "Maybe a way to avoid the soup texture is to have five or so guilds that are spaced further or closer together? I like the ideas of significant openings, gaps, meadows, and outdoor rooms."
Joshua, its my understanding that brush will break down and release nutrients quicker, and can suit plants that are heavy feeders of nutrients in the first year. Hugelbeds with brush will need replenishment faster than beds with logs.
A bed with only logs supposedly will need at least a year before you grow any heavy feeders. Some recommend to plant only or mostly nitrogen fixing plants in the first year or two.
So from what I've read, pawpaw should be shaded from full sun but only in the first two years. What the literature left out is whether this is two years from seed, or two years after a seedling transplant. Can anyone clarify this? I would think that its two years from seed but...Have any of you pawpaw growers started them in full sun right from the start and had success? If you shaded them for only two years, how did you do it? I'm thinking of using small pieces of reemay (floating row cover) but I could see that physically inhibiting growth.
Jason wrote: Has anyone grown from direct seeding into a lasagna bed?
How did this work out?
I've planted just about every type of annual vegetable from seed into first year lasagne beds. It works out great as long as you have enough of a nitrogen source, and make 1-2 inch wide trenches/furrows right down to the existing soil level, and filling those in with soil, compost, manure, or a mix of each. Root crops such as carrots can be a bit tricky in the first year but they can be successful if you have sandy soil, or loosen the existing soil with a hay fork before sheet mulching, and/or build your sheet mulch up high enough (eg. at least 1 foot high)
Soil, what if the trees you cut will grow back from the stumps, and were chosen because they had really bad form and were crowding other trees? And what if all the trees cut were within about 1600 feet of the hugel beds? What if you leave 3-4 foot stumps and grow mushrooms on them? I would argue that it is folly to take too much rotting wood from the forest floor. Unless you're speaking of another source that would otherwise go to waste.
Knarf, the beds can last from 10 - 20 years or more. It depends on the wood you use. The harder woods which are freshly cut should last much longer than soft woods or wood that is rotting.
Is it sustainable? I think that it can be but it depends on how you go about it. For first time hugelbeds I think the pinnacle would be to harvest on site, either from the forest floor, a coppice/pollard woodlot, or combination of the two, using horses and hand saws/axes. Either that or some free offsite source of wood that would otherwise be burned needlessly. Most of us will not have the luxury of the above of course. To make six 50 X 6 X 4 foot deep beds (reaching 3.5-4 feet high) and an adjacent 50 X 5 foot trench @ 4 feet deep- I used about 20 litres of gasoline to fuel my ATV to pull the logs, approximately 6 litres of oil/gas mix for my chainsaw, and about 7-8 hours with a backhoe to dig the trenches, push some of the logs into place, and bury the woody debris. I'm sure this could have been done much more efficiently using the same equipment but it was our first time doing this so there were a lot of kinks to be worked out.
I think that for future beds I'll do them by hand. We made a few beds this way, digging shallow 10 inch trenches and piling wood about 2 feet above the soil surface, then covering with spoiled hay and soil from the trench. They performed well in terms of plant growth, and we didn't have to water except during transplanting, which was more of an insurance policy.
I think a key thing to ensure long term sustainability for successive rounds of hugelbeds would be to (as Fukuoka suggested) plant trees in a spot you want the beds in, so that when they are large enough, you can do a simple chop, drop, and bury. You just need about a decade or two...
I mostly am just writing to say hello, and am glad to hear of your fortune and that you are wishing to share your opportunity with others. I'll keep you in mind as I meet new people interested in beginning such a lifestyle. Sounds like we have similar dreams. Its nice to come across.
My name is Travis Philp. I'm part owner of a farm in the Kawarthas, about halfway between Lindsay and Bobcaygeon on Pigeon Lake Road aka hwy 17. We're about 30 mins from downtown Peterborough. We've called the place Greenshire (http://www.greenshireecofarms.com) and have been around only a year. In that time we've started a 22 member foodbox program and approx. one acre no-tillage market garden. We built some out buildings for horses, and have 5 of them, with plans to board several more. Two of our members are training in an equine assisted therapy program for humans so we'll offer this service to people once the training is complete.
Like you, we wish to build several cottages to put up for rent, and also build a 16 unit Earth Ship home with attached greenhouse in order to be able to house new farm partners. Going off grid is another goal. We are also planning to plant a forest garden of as many acres as we can afford, full of fruit and nut trees among other crops. We hope to become an educator and showcaser of permaculture/sustainable agriculture, and have already become part of the Kawartha Farm Fresh Tour, and taught three interns.
You're welcome to come visit, or simply ask questions if you'd like.
Thanks for the ideas all. I'm leaning towards feeding it to chickens. Even chickens need to unwind once in awhile. I thought about cooking it but its rhubarb wine which is extremely bitter and sour. Not sure my iron chef skills are strong enough to make that taste good.
I've filtered my wine and there's about a gallon of 'lees' aka the dead yeast and other solids left over. The alcohol content is about 13-15%. It's too thick and bitter to drink. I tried once and it gives a really bad hangover. It'd be a shame to just dump it down the drain. I get a new batch of wine every few months, and hope to up that productivity, so I'd really like to find a use for the lees. Any ideas?
I thought about dumping it in my basement worm composter but wondered if the alcohol content would harm them. Same with dumping it on my garden beds. There's gotta be some way to give this stuff a second purpose.
***I posted this in the permaculture forum because I'm trying to turn waste into resource, and come up with multiple uses for an element in my zone 0 system. I hope thats appropriate.
My feeling is that pioneer species (ideally nitrogen fixers) would be best for this but depending on the species and amount of disturbance, you might end up with a crapload of suckers. I suppose these suckers could be transplanted or chopped and dropped though.
What about growing the root crops under the trees but in large containers? I've grown really nice carrot crops in tree pots for instance. This may be more suited to the homescale/zone 1 rather than any type of commercial solution...
I would be cautious about planting anything but light feeders in the first year in one of these christmas tree or a hugel bed in general. If I recall correctly, in Sepp Holzers 'Permakultur' book, he states that if using small brush, its ok to grow heavy feeders but if using mostly logs, its best to wait until the second year before doing so. Instead one should grow nitrogen fixers and other crops with minimal nutrient requirements.
Wouldn't the digging of the potatoes be damanging to the trees root system? Even growing above ground in hay, potatoes sometimes have to be dug out. I suppose you could leave those ones to perennialize...
We had success growing peas, lettuce, and mustard, in a hugelkultur bed with no manure. And this can be done by anyone who lives in an area where people celebrate Christmas, since all we did was lay old christmas trees out and bury them with soil. The soil we used was light-ish clay loam from the B horizon of an area dug for a pond.
So even if you live in a high density urban area without access to forest timber, you could go around your neighbourhood and either ask people permission to collect their christmas trees after they're done with em, or just grab them from the curb before the garbage trucks come for the corpses.
Emerson White wrote: When you break down the benefits of keeping animals into all of the little components you get a comparable amount of work between keeping them and not But the fact of the matter is that the cost of keeping them is a bill that comes just as seldom if you are doing 10 things with your animals as if you are just doing one. If you keep your chickens indoors and only give them food and take eggs that's a decent payout, but if you have them clearing your garden of insects and rooting through the soil, and laying eggs, and recycling waste calories (something plants can't do at all) and providing bedding, and flavoring and company you have a great payout. That is why every farmstead had them. It's not that they were too stupid to figure out that it was easier with out them, it's that they knew that the animals did more for them than it cost to raise them.
As for hunting I support it up and to a point, however fossil records show that uncontrolled hunting is probably more ecologically devastating than even modern day farm practices.
The arguement that 'everybody is/was doing it' doesn't make it right. Most of todays farmers are doing corn,wheat,soy monocultures reliant on fossil fuels and heavy machintery, for example... Just because every farmstead had animals, and even if they're more worth than their trouble to any given family, doesn't mean they are necessarily worth it when you look at the issue from an environmental health standpoint. I realize that many think keeping stock can be environmentally sound too but there are many who disagree.
Hunting: I never said one should get into uncontrolled hunting. And with the hunting, I should have added fishing, (the government here breeds and stocks lakes anyhow...) and clarified to include hunting overpopulated 'pest' animals (eg. songbirds) as an untapped resource and control method. We've surely got to be responsible with hunting and not take too much.
Emerson White wrote: Plants eat your table scraps, then produces extra calories for you to eat? A plant that gets compost will turn sunlight into food as fast as a plant that gets compost and manure? A plant will pick off bugs from other plants and turn them into calories on your plate? A plant will go into an area and root around and break up the soil? A plant will help you take out a tree stump that's in the way?
Plants can provide the following, which is what I was answering to:
velacreations: "they eat (Insertion: in a plants case; convert) the waste from the garden and provide me with food, manure, company, clothing, and tools."
In answer to your questions Emmerson:
Well, the plants don't eat the scraps but in effect they use them.
If you use compost teas as well as compost I think the growth rates would be comparible. Even if it took a bit longer, I think it's worth it considering the alternative.
Certain plants can be made into insecticidal sprays, or grown next to 'at risk' plants to ward off insects, without the issue of an animal messing up your garden by compaction, eating vegetable crops, and/or knocking them over. If using direct sprays the insects will die in the garden and their calories returned to the earth. Otherwise, I think there is enough bird and animal life cycling in the average garden to make up for a lack of chickens or ducks. When you run a chicken through your garden, there probably won't be any wild birds in the same area at the same time for example. And after observing both types of birds in a garden, I'd rather have wild birds. I could shoot them if I wanted some extra calories, and they don't bring the extra work and hassle of domesticated birds.
Yes, plants can go into areas and break up soil. Tap rooted plants are great for that, they don't wake me up at 4 in the morning, or raise my risk of cancer when I eat them. In fact many tap root plants fight cancer. I don't think you can't say that for any meat that I know of.
Now, a plant can't remove a stump. You've got me there. For the amount of stumps most of us have to remove in a lifetime though, I don't think keeping domesticated animals around is worth it. I wonder how long it takes most fungi to turn a stump soft enough that one could easily remove it. Not applicable if the stump is in a roadway or on a future building site I know, but it could be applicable in some cases. I suppose if one wanted to avoid using machinery for stump removal and digging wasn’t viable, some of us have the option of borrowing a neighbors animal. In my case, we keep horses for recreational and equine-assisted-therapy purposes and could use our half draft cross.
Emerson White wrote: Yes it is possible to do many things with out animals, but not with less labor.
Even if this were true, which I don’t agree…I think the trade off of a more environmentally friendly farming practice void of domesticated animals is worth the marginally extra labour. I must say, it may not be the case with everyone but the people I know who have domesticated animals are practically slaves to them. And even the most violent of plants isn’t going to be able to do as much damage as a donkey stepping on your foot, kicking you in the head, or a bull impaling you. Unless of course you eat a poisonous plant but this could happen regardless. A plant isn’t going to fly at you full tilt or squawk with annoying volume and negative energy every time you walk by, or follow you around begging for food. A plant isn’t going to leave its runny shit in large quantities on the ground for you to step on, or cause you to need to muck a barn.
Emerson White wrote:
To top it all off there is no ecosystem that is both stable and productive anywhere on land with out several types of animal larger than a kilogram.
Nature can provide this in just about any ecosystem I can think of where humans live.
Emerson White wrote:
Just keeping some sort of small fowl safe with access to your compost bin will do wonders to enrich your compost, and reduce your labor, and provide extra calories. I know I've done it. All summer you keep the birds with a pitance of scratch and table scraps and the compost pile, then in fall you kill them and eat them, if one guy in 10 saves a few over the winter with some grain he can hatch out chicks and trade them to the others for the grain that he used in the winter and start the whole ball of wax again the next year.
If you want those extra animal calories go could hunt. And excluding hunting, a patch of lambs quarters, basswood, or alfalfa for example can provide calories at a much lower maintenance level than keeping fowl, and they allow you the freedom to go on vacation without having to inconvenience your neighbours to look after them. As far as compost piles, you can enhance them quite well with comfrey, nettles, or other similar plants.
velacreations wrote: My domesticated animals require less time than my garden. They tend to themselves just fine, if you let them. I don't have metal barns and very few fences. Every homestead 300+ years ago had animals. They didn't have cheap oil to make it possible, and that's why they had animals.
My point is that adding animals increases your efficiency, not reduces it. My rabbits and chickens don't require extra planting or space, they eat the waste from the garden and provide me with food, manure, company, clothing, and tools. Excluding them from my system increases my labor (weeding+composting) and reduces my products.
But everything you mention can be provided by plants, for less of an environmental cost. And if when you weed you compost in place, then you save time and energy since you don't have to move the garden waste to the animals. And yes, you can just let the animals wander through gardens to get to the wastes but not in most cases unless you're willing to suffer crop loss/damage.
And though this is not an issue for people in warm enough climates, for those with a snowy winter, you have to either harvest and store food for your animals, or you buy it from offsite, the former of which can be a real pain in the ass, as well as a time, space, and energy vampire.
velacreations wrote: If a plant is growing in just the fresh manure, then maybe there might be an issue (I've seen tons of pants grow in manure), but the fact is that properly managed manure will be mixed with other organic matter and composted, which greatly reduces the salt concentration.
The risk of salt injury to plants from manure is very slim, as long as you compost manure with organic matter.
If my local region is any indicator though, proper manure management and field application is not commonplace. It is often spread way before it is properly composted, and without the addition of a carbon rich companion (eg. straw mulch). Admittedly I haven't seen many manure piles compared to the amount that are out there but most of the ones I have seen aren't managed properly.
And even if salt wasn't an issue, there are still all the other negative factors that go along with high concentrations of feces, and domesticated animals in general.
I've been thinking about taking a PDC course offered in London Ontario in 2011. I'd like to see an emphasis on farm scale forest gardening, earthworks for passive irrigation (or passive irrigation methods in general), and guild/polyculture building and existing examples. I feel like I have only the most basic grasp on these subjects and since I'm self taught, I have a lot of doubts about whether my conclusions and assumptions are correct.
jmy, I posed this question earlier but I think it got lost in the shuffle. What did you do for bed preparation in the first year? I'm planning on establishing a whack of new vegetable and fruit gardens next year and would like to avoid manure if I can. I'm gonna go big on fresh eating and drying beans as a companion plant but that'll only get me so far
Emerson White wrote: Well it only salts the earth if the manure is from an animal whose food is salted. Permaculture however relies on animals large and small to process the parts of the plants that humans cannot. Humans+Plants =massive fail. Humans +Plants+Animals+Fungus=Win.
I disagree. Animals concentrate salts in their feces, and since salts are naturally present in most soils and ground waters, it will be present in manure whether salt is added to feed or not.
Manure commonly contain 4 to 5% soluble salts (dry weight basis) and may run as high as 10%. To illustrate, an application of 5 tons of manure containing 5% salt would add 500 lbs. of salt... http://ecochem.com/t_manure_fert.html
Emerson White wrote: Should we skip out on raising plants just because people are doing it wrong?
No, I think we should develop and promote no-till, perennial/self-seeding annual based agriculture that uses little to no inputs from domesticated animals.
And Emmerson, how can you say that humans +plants = massive failure? I'd like to see some examples of this. First of all, that simple equation could only happen in space or a lab. You're always going to have wild animals, birds, and fungi lending their benefits to the system.
Jonathan Byron wrote: Not mockery ... just asking where that way of thinking draws the line, and why. I appreciate objections to the many problems generated by modern feedlot agriculture and imbalance cause by eating large quantities of meat. But herbivores, carnivores, and their manure and carcasses are a normal part of most terrestrial ecosystems - I don't see such animal products as an inherent problem, though it can be if too concentrated. And worms and insects are also animals (and they play important roles in most terrestrial ecosystems and soil nutrient cycling). Is the objection only to manure from mammals? Mammals and birds? Either way, it seems rather arbitrary to me. What if the animals are not raised for slaughter - does that make the manure acceptable?
The line gets drawn at domesticated animals. Whether the animals are raised for slaughter is not the key issue. It is the environmental degradation that usually comes with raising animals domestically, eg. The soil compaction, erosion, water and air pollution, high salt content in manures, and inefficient land use, common as a result of animal husbandry operations.
I don't think any stock free farmer is so daft that they don't realize animals (eg. worms, insects, other wild beings) are going to be a part of the system no matter what. They just want to minimize environmental impact of their ag practices, and see veganic agriculture as the best answer.
Yes, herbivore, carnivores, and their manure and carcasses are a normal part of most terrestrial ecosystems, but not even near to the excessive degree which most farmers apply them.
Jmy, do you have much experience growing this way? Ramial chipped branch wood, and kelp are not viable options for me as I don't have chipper access, and I'm much too far from the sea. I wonder if lake weeds make a good enough substitute for kelp, as there are plenty of lakes around here.
Also, what do you do for bed preparation in the first year? Plant compost and leaf mold take at least a year, I've tried growing in upturned sod sheet mulches and met with some success but the area was an old chicken run with nutrient rich soil, so I can't be sure that sod alone will do the trick in my nutrient poor soils here at the new farm. We do grow all of our potatoes successfully using only hay, and we've done well with beans in nothing but mounded soil. Not sure if those methods would work for every type of crop though.
I do use animal manure for our sheet mulches but its a one time application for the life of the bed. From there no more manure is needed in my experience, and some of these beds have been running strong 4 years without manure added. Our source is a horse boarding farm about 7 minutes drive away so I don't feel too bad about using it but I'd avoid it if I had a bed prep method that I was confident in. I will keep experimenting.
I've been thinking about making our own alfalfa meal, since we have a lot of it growing in our fields but I'm not sure how we'd process a large amount of it efficiently.
Have any of you used Ormus in your watering regime? I know only the basics behind it, and seen some pictoral claims of giant walnuts and oranges. I wanna say it seems like it falls into the 'too good to be true' category but I don't know enough about it to go that far I think.
So my very crude understanding of it is that it is an extract of sea salt using water and lye, and a pH meter to gain the proper pH. (I seem to recall it being 10.7, correct me if I'm wrong)
This extract is used to water plants, and is aparently dramatic in its results for healing sick plants, and (for example) producing walnuts that are bigger than golfballs.
The buckthorn scenario you describe is exactly what we have on our farm. Every hedgerow is full of them, and they have moved into the shady understory of the forest edges in a big way. Only dogwood seems to be able to keep pace.
I grew them in the berm of a swale this year and got my best crop yet. A good yield despite the fact that I didn't add any manure or other nutrient source save for woodchip mulch and the soil is very depeleted of nutrients. Which confirmed what I've read about sweet potato not needing rich soils.
I'd be planting it into an old hay field that's been tilled up in the last few years but not planted. The soil is sandy and seems lacking in nutrients. At least nitrogen. I fear that this would be a near perfect scenario for goumi to go forth and multiply.
How long has the autumn olive been established at the area around rice lake? Maybe it just needs more time to get to European Buckthorn levels?
Thanks for the leads everyone. Looking into this plant initially I found sources saying it wasn't invasive but new information has come to light and I'm told that it spreads like crazy. Yes they apparently produce good tasting berries and fix nitrogen but what if I plant a bunch of them here, they spread through my region, and cause some unforseen problems in the ecosystem. I'm sure the first person to bring European Buckthorn into Ontario had no idea of the havoc they would unleash.
I can't find sources of this plant in Canada, and have found a few nurseries in the U.S. that will ship to the states but they are in Oregon which is on the other side of the continent from where I'm at here in Ontario.
Do any of you know of nurseries carrying Goumi located in Canada or the eastern States who ship to Canada?
That was my instinct to but I try not to assume. It often blows up in my face when I do. I think it feasible to theorize that if you coppice the black locust enough, at the right time of year, shred the locust prunings, and use them as a mulch for the barley, you could see an increase in barley yield over the sole barley crop.
Here's the link. The conclusion is on page 252. Basically they found that the barley yields were less when intercropped but that total yield was much greater when you add in the biomass yield of the locust.
Ed, I know what you mean...Markets can be competetive, and restaurants can be fickle and fair weather friends. I have no way of knowing for sure but it seems to me that one must have back up options for utilizing crops, as you did by making pesto out of the sorrel. I recall the leaves being big enough that if you couldn't sell it any which way, you could use it as a cut and come again mulch, or use it as an animal feed. Multiple avenues for selling produce are key IMO, as is not growing so much of something as to be reliant on it for income, yet growing enough to meet average market demands. Its just that easy...
Looking around at the product vaccuums that exist is what I'm trying to do. NOBODY is growing fruit commercially in my region, save for apples and strawberries, and good luck finding any that are grown organically. Same story with edible mushrooms. And as far as I've been able to find, there are only two other farms growing globe artichokes in my whole province, and the ones who are, are about 2 hours away from here, not even putting a dent in the market. Sweet potatoes are another rare locally produced crop. I could go on.
So, I'm looking to do what no one else (or very few) are doing, and going for it. If my fruit stops selling at market, I also intend to have a U-Pick, restaurants, groceries, and possibly bakeries, and wineries as options. I realize that then you go to wholesale pricing but I still think theres a pretty penny to be made. Especially with our projected low overhead.
As far as I can remember, the woodchips we used were a mix of old and new chips. Can't recall the ratio. We also threw weeds in the mix. It didn't get too hot is all I know. I think theres a big difference between a 3-4 foot high pile compared to a 6-12 inch one.