It is time to collect apple seeds from store bought apples and to scarify the seeds we bought from an Italian seed company. We bought the apples at the local farmer's market from an apple tree farmer...the apples have 6 to 8 seeds each, and we are using the wet towel method to test that they will sprout.
Store bought apples have been in the frig for about two months. Based on past experience, if we put them on the ground soon, they will sprout in the spring, and provided we have a "normal" spring and summer, 50% should grow to become trees. And that is absolutely FANTASTIC !!!
The seeds bought from the seed company are in jars in moist sand, and will stay there for 45 days or so, before being planted. I want to test and see how this procedure will do.
I am hoping for the best. It will take a few years before we know more about how to mass propagate this great tree.
Near cities, it will feed people for 50 to 100 years, in the forest, if it self seeds and thrives it provides food for bears, deer etc. and enrich all life there.
Love responsibility. Say "It is my duty, and mine alone, to save the earth. If it is not saved, then I alone am to blame.”
Best of luck with the seeds...keep us posted with photos.
To soak or not to soak the seeds?
It depends on the local conditions - and time will tell.
For now, under my local conditions, seeds planted in early October don't get soaked. But large seeds, like walnuts, almonds and apricots, placed after New Years, get soaked. I am concerned that there may not be enough moisture to stratify the seeds.
This year, the first full fall rains came late October - the window to plant narrows !!!
As far as land to plant, there is plenty...if you are in a city... abandoned/unused lots is one option, roadway embankments not maintained (make sure that when trees grow and produce fruits that they don't fall and interfere with the safety on the roadways).
If you are in the country...there is plenty of unused public land.
By planting this way, we are not investing a lot in time or money. In 15 minutes you can plant over 50 seeds that can cost less than a dollar/euro (or whatever) or are free to collect/save.
The returns are amazing...an oak tree for hundreds of years will provide shade, acorns etc. - an apple tree for 100 years will provide food !!!
There are very few things a person can do, that will have such a positive impact long after he/she is gone.
It's odd, but sometimes it may take 3 or 4 years before a piece of land will start growing trees. We need to be aware of this and not be discouraged.
Plant for others not just for yourself. The reward of seeing a hungry, tired person enjoy freely available fruits or nuts cannot be described.
"Creating edible biodiversity and embracing everlasting abundance."
This brief sentence - maybe it should become an international mission statement of sorts !!!
I am aware of the rewilding movement... it's a step in the right direction.
The sloe shrubs are amazing...goats have no chance of getting through…
Hugo, there are many fine examples around the world, of people working in harmony with nature, and how it benefits all...it needs to spread like wildfire...time is of essence...its common sense simple and not hard to do.
I am going to try planting walnuts this year to see how they do. To help them along, I cracked open one end and will soak them for 24 to 48 hours before planting...we will see how they do...I suspect they prefer higher elevations.
This year I am planting 4 new pieces of land. They vary in size from 150 square meters to 2,000. They are very strong and rich in organic matter...by far the best land I have worked with. I am curious to see how the seeds do in this soil. No wild pigs here or acidic soils (mice may still be a problem, as well weather).
They are ideal to be used as edible community forest gardens. Hope for the best.
It's great to hear about Virgilia oroboides...it sounds like it can be used to reclaim depleted soils/damaged ecosystems.
Next time you are in Greece bring some.
Large areas of the Peloponnese are completely bare...just bare stone, or a very thin layer of soil...we can give it a try.
I need to spend more time in southern Greece...Sparta-Athens. Carob, oak and olive trees will form the backbone for reforesting these areas. The microclimate varies wildly in these regions...a comprehensive plan must be developed and executed to heal the land there. It will take a long term national commitment to get it done.
When the virus restrictions are lifted, I hope to travel there and see how the seeds I placed last year are doing (they were placed late, so…)
We need to redefine what a forest is and what reforestation should be. We know that it is definitely not a pine monoculture forest. The millions of pine trees planted around the world, was a huge mistake. It may have been driven by the need for fast growing timber for use in buildings and industry, with no regard for the destruction of the soil and ecosystem.
Based on what I have seen in the last 20 years, I believe the land can recover...a heaven on earth can be created to accommodate all species.
How do things look from your point of view in that part of the world?
Funny you mentioned the sloe thorn bush and its history as the mother of oak trees-very interesting-..they grow by the side of the road at 4 places, as I drive from home to the farm (30 min drive). I tried growing them by seed...but no luck so far. I may transplant some...I like this bush, thorns and all.
Your plans with the plums, chestnuts and the other trees sounds great... keep us posted in the spring and fall, as you go along.
I avoid visiting the trees in the middle or late summer... it's difficult to watch them struggle and it can be discouraging.
[i]Creating edible biodiversity and embracing everlasting abundance[/i].
Is this part of your post?
Just spent some time planting near Thessaloniki...I visited places where for one reason or another, the almonds apricots and plums do not seem to survive...last year I planted Quercus ilex in these locations...I was delighted to seem them alive....many of them
They may be the tree to plant in areas where the pine trees are dying and in difficult environments.
The wild olive tree was one of the most important trees of the ancient forests in the mediterranean region (carob and oak being the others).
If we are to reclaim the devastated landscape we need to be able to plant olive trees by seed...its not easy. This difficulty is the main reason olive trees in nurseries are grown from cuttings...trees grown from cuttings are weak, reliant on water and chemicals; they may look like olive trees, but they don't have the strength of the wild olive trees.
For the last 2 to 3 years I been trying to grow them, but had no luck. I nicked the pits... cut them etc with no luck. I collected from wild olive groves and from our trees...but nothing, until today.
I need to go back to my old vids to see what I did to them, or the location where I collected the olives.
For now I am thrilled to see you that its possible to grow them.
Two days ago, by accident I found my self in an area not that far away from our farm, that I had not visited before. The area is flat and is covered mostly by olive groves and wheat fields...all plowed, chemical agriculture.
I was stunned to see this old oak tree...the last of what must have been heavily forested area as described in articles and books.
I wish I knew the history of of this piece of land. How this tree got to survive and for what purpose the others were cut and by whom.
I will collect acorns from this tree and plant them.
Antonio, it all sounds great...Love your attitude and energy. Enjoy your journey with your family's land, nature and everything that comes along. Caring and nurturing the land, and by extension, every creature that lives on it, will enrich your life in ways you can not imagine.
Just a note...plant your seeds in October (after the fall rains come) and November (and maybe early December)...plant 1st the almonds and apricots (large seeds) which the hungry mice will look for in the middle of winter. The early rains hopefully hide their location.
Just keep putting seeds in the ground randomly and you will be amazed by what nature can do. Some seeds like carobs, olives and others you will need to scarify before planting.
By far our biggest success is our own farm. It's 10,000 square meters and we have trees growing everywhere... anywhere you go, if you look closely at the ground you will discover new trees coming up.
One of the advantages of following the 3 natural farming principles [Masanobu Fuluoka, San], is that the soil grows more fertile year by year. No matter how much or hard it rains, not a single drop of water leaves the property... it's all stored and available for the trees. My neighbors who plow and fertilize, lose part of their topsoil each year.
Masanobu was brilliant; well ahead of his time. The "One Straw Revolution" book is a classic; part philosophy, part applied farming.
How you view your relationship with the land will determine its future and yours. Before you take your first step on the farm, your mind set and attitude, will determine what will happen to you and the land.
If, like a "regular farmer", you view yourself in "charge" and the "boss of the place" you will try to impose your will on the land and order it to grow trees that maybe it does not want, or cannot grow. By over watering, using fertilizers and pesticides etc it may produce short term results but it will eventually do harm and destroy the land.
On the other hand, you can view yourself as the land's "helper", or view the land as a dear family member; you will behave differently. Or better yet view yourself as the "servant"...provide the land, the trees and grasses, with everything they need to make them thrive. You will see in a few years the place will become the land of plenty; a heaven on earth. Your main task will be to collect the food.
Observe nature around you...it will give you some hints on what the land wants to grow.
Part of the process of growing trees this way, is FAILURE. This year, very early in the spring we got hit with a heat wave for 3 to 4 days; 40 degree Celsius instead of the usual 8C to 12C. It killed most of the trees I had planted...seeds that were put in the ground in October and November had sprouted and young trees were growing everywhere...most could not handle the heat. I will know the extent of the loss in the spring.
"Failure" hurts and disappoints and discourages; after spending hours and days preparing and planting, to see your effort melt away is difficult !!!
We have planted in multiple locations, from northern Greece to southern. Low to high elevations. The effort is geared towards identifying what the earth wants to grow at different locations, and finding ways to do the planting.
Last summer, I was away from my home base, but they had a difficult summer here, with no rains and high temperatures...this also killed many of the trees that were planted in the previous 2 to 4 years. Young trees grown in poor hard soils are weak and cannot survive very adverse conditions. In the the same area, 6 plus year old trees survived the drought. Apparently their root system was strong enough.
If you plant trees/reforest conventionally, by planting one tree at the time, you need to run around watering these trees individually for 3 to 4 years. If you are close to roads and have a few hundred or even a few thousand trees, maybe you can do it, but at a great cost. If you are away from roads, it's nearly impossible. Conventional reforestation under this new climate is not doable. Here is Greece in the last 75 years, "conventional reforestation" meant planting pine trees exclusively; the worst possible choice...it was as if other trees did not exist. I find it amazing/mind boggling.
It is disappointing to see young trees die, but we have no choice but to continue. Young trees are more vulnerable if planted in hard clay soils and soils that are acidic due to the presence of pine trees…Rich soils produce strong young trees that can survive the extremes in weather.
But...its poor depleted, rocky sites that need help !!!
Sites with rich soils near cities and towns can be used to create community food forests. Within 6 or 7 years fruit and nut trees planted by seed in rich soils start producing food.
It just blows my mind that we have people going hungry on this planet when perennial food sources can easily be planted.
Some trees like mulberry and loquat trees may need to be transplanted ... create a nursery in the summer and transplant in winter; no care after that.
Keep us posted and send photos; I am particularly interested to see if the walnuts will sprout and grow (thank you for the kind words).
I will look into Ernst Gotsch….it sounds great; the climate conditions in the tropics of Brazil are much more forgiving than the dry mediterranean climate...a different set of challenges but manny common threads.
Now is also a good time for a mulberry tree nursery and if successful a tree medick.
Both will be transplanted in the wintertime while dormant in wet soil, and then will not be given any care.
I hope to have at least 100 of each.
This way of tree planting is very exposed to the whims of the weather...a month ago we had a spell of 40 C days in early spring (104F). The change from mild rainy weather to very hot kills many of the new trees.
Last summer's extended hot weather and drought did the same. It even killed 3 to 4 year old trees. Some areas that I thought were completely planted, and had a few hundred young trees, were completely wiped out.
Its important to have multiple planting sites, even within a given area. The microclimate and soils differ even 100 meters apart and you get different results.
Failure is part of this effort and when doing this you hope for a break.... favorable weather.
Just because we encounter set backs, we don't give up...learn and persist. This effort to cover the earth and feed people will last years and years !!!
And ...first hand experience of what bad policy brings...
A few years ago in the midst of this economic depression we are experiencing here in Greece, the government raised taxes for heating fuels..gas and oil, so much, that people installed wood burning heating systems.
Small companies that sell wood for heating cropped everywhere...on bad winter days a cloud of smoke hangs over Thessaloniki.... thousands of trees have been cut, and the revenues the bright policy makers dreamed about have gone up in smoke.
Our war on trees (on our own home) continues unabated...