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Posts: 19
Location: Georgia
6
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LOVING this topic! Really fits into what I'm trying to do.
I have 15 acres of wild property, all sloped, but enough of it is a gentle slope that I can work with it. I plan on eventually building some swales - for the food forest, and to help hold more water up there over the summer. There will be a LOT more clearing that needs to be done, some of that wood can be used for construction, fire wood, and hugel beds (which I hope to have LOTS of.)

Because funds are extremely limited, over this summer my plans are to clear a bit more woods, put electric fencing up for the goats, build them a shelter, as well as start on an earthbag barn with a loft.
Due to deer pressure, I also plan on working on food forest guilds that will be fenced in on their own.

The site I've chosen for a home, the most level spot, will be further cleared, any possibly dangerous trees removed, and kept mowed throughout the year to keep saplings from coming back and taking over again. Once I get the driveway, well, septic and electric up there, real construction can begin, and by then the site will be ready.

Eventually, there will be a large amount of silvopasture, multiple 'clearings' that will be part of the rotational grazing system, and hidden gems of food forest all over. None of this is visible from the road, but I will still have a great view of the valley around me.

In the image, the home site is up just beyond view...

20200313_141950.jpg
Just getting started!
Just getting started!
 
gardener
Posts: 2123
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
946
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Hello Sandy,

Thank you for the comment and for sharing! 😊 Sounds like you have a good overall plan the only thing I would really recommend is to design your place in a mosaic pattern.

Basically a mix of open areas in your forest, surrounded by thinned forest, swales spaced out and potentially some heavily thinned forest areas that you could grow a food forest below the remaining taller trees.

The goal would be a complex diverse mosaic of habitat types.

The thinned but relatively wild forest areas could be used for foraging, and potentially for growing mushrooms.

Swales are great for growing trees and shrubs. Though you could also have open areas down hill of the swales below the trees right below the swales. These open areas could be good for food production and they would benefit from the water captured by the swales up hill from them.

Heavily thinned forest areas could be great for a number of different types of food forest crops. Potentially wood production using coppiced trees in the understory. You could also add a lot of edible plants in these semi-open forested areas. But these would be a bit more “wild” then the fully opened areas.

I’m a big fan of using a mosaic pattern of habitats when developing a design for a forested area.

Good luck!
 
pollinator
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
112
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Hi Daron,

Are you still in the question-answering business?  I have a couple of questions that keep me wondering.

First - I planted all blue potatoes.  I'm a potato novice, but they are growing quite well.  I've bought potatoes (sometimes blue, sometimes mixed) from the supermarket.  They've been washed, they are small (one was a "fingerling" collection) and some start to go bad before I can use them all.  Is it possible that blue potatoes aren't good keepers?  I love the idea of potatoes with anthocynanins.

Second - We are having a very dry summer so far.  My husband worries that our well will run dry, so I've tried to be extremely targeted with watering.  Almost everything I'm growing is mulched with a generous layer of wood chips, and my raised beds all have rotten wood at their bases.  Nonetheless, it's pretty dry.  The seedlings I've planted are struggling with pests; the flowers I've put in by seed are nowhere near big enough to attract or repel any bugs.  I resorted to buying some potted herbs, marigolds, and mints, and things have improved.  I also added some more well-aged goat bedding on top of the mulch.  Any thoughts about this rambling non-question?  

Third - any idea why we can't germinate Good King Henry?  I'm also trying crambe from seed.  There are some tiny plants without their first leaves that resulted from really carefully removing the seed covers, stratifying, and careful planting.  I am not sure why they don't grow!  Maybe bugs eating them, too.  I'm going to try to buy a plant or two next year; starting these things is so frustrating.  Any perennial vegetables that might start more easily from seed (USDA Zone 5)?

Thank you!
 
Daron Williams
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Posts: 2123
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
946
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Hello Anne!

This post hasn’t gotten much attention recently but I’m happy to answer any questions you have if I can. And anyone reading this please feel free to leave your questions and I will do my best to answer them!

I don’t know the answer for sure about blue potatoes but my guess is that there are varieties of blue potatoes that store well and ones that don’t. Since the ones from the store had been washed and processed that could have reduced their storage potential. The ones your growing may store better if they’re not washed till you need to use them and you store them well. I would watch them after you harvest them to see how they do. If you notice them starting to sprout or otherwise not store well then at least you will catch it early and hopefully still be able to use them.

Droughts are a challenge. As I write this I’m giving my garden a very deep watering. I try to only do this once or twice a month and ideally even less. I’m mentioning this because it sounds like you’re doing everything right in regards to reducing how much water your garden needs. But it also takes time for your soil to improve. If you keep your garden well mulched overtime the soil will improve which will also mean it can hold more water.

So next year will be better than this year and the year after even better. But it does take time and sometimes you will need to water until the soil improves. I’m not sure of your exact conditions but there are some other things you can do to help reduce how much water your garden needs. Here are some blog posts I wrote on this topic. The suggestions aren’t magic bullets but they should help—especially if you use them together.

- 19 Ways to Deal with Drought on the Homestead
- 5 Ways to Transform Your Garden into a Low Water Garden

Good King Henry is a challenge and I’m just starting to learn how to grow it from seed. This year I sowed seeds in 2 spots and in 1 spot I had no germination. In the other I had given up and covered the area with some wood chips but then a few weeks later I had a bunch germinate and they’re actually slowly growing. So I don’t know why these ended up germinating—I gave up on them, stopped watering and covered the area in mulch and yet somehow those were the ones that germinated… so I guess they thrive on neglect?

I’m afraid I really don’t have an answer to you for that one. I’m hoping mine continue to do well so I can get more seeds and I’m going to try growing them again. If I get mine to germinate I will post on permies with what worked. One thing I want to try is sowing them in the fall and letting the winter weather help get them ready to germinate. I would love to have them in my food forest so hopefully that will help.

As far as perennial vegetables for zone 5… sunchokes should be hardy in zone 5 and they’re really easy to get going. Just stick the tubers in the ground and they should thrive. If you do plant them just make sure you put them somewhere you’re okay with them staying. It’s hard to get rid of them if you change your mind.

There are a lot of options out there though for perennial veggies. I’ve been focusing on some native ones to my area but here are some blog posts that could help you. The plants in the posts aren’t all hardy down to zone 5 but a lot of them are.

- 11 Perennial Greens You Will Love to Grow
- 11 Perennial Root Vegetables for Your Garden

Those posts don’t cover which ones are easy to propagate but at least it will give you some options to consider.

Also, next week I’m coming out with a new blog post that will list cold hardy perennial vegetables. There will be a lot of overlap with the above posts.

Good luck!
 
Anne Pratt
pollinator
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
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Ooh!  Maybe I'll just mulch my Good King Henry bed and leave it alone!  I just want some perennial vegetables.  Did I mention trying to grow crambe (sea kale)?  I can buy plants next year and propagate from there, though.  I put in Jerusalem artichokes already this year, and I've got a perennial spinach that takes a couple years to get going.  I'm very much looking forward to your post on cold-tolerant perennial vegetables!

I expanded my garden significantly this year.  The raised beds were new last year, filled with rotten wood, bagged compost, leaf mold from the woods, and bagged soil.  The beds were built atop a torn-up old lawn, with no topsoil in sight after construction.  But the vegetables did well.  Having retired last year, and with the pandemic this year, I added a LOT - three more raised beds, making it six, an area of 10-inch deep mulch of wood chips to start a food forest, and planting two mulberry trees, an apple, and a plum that's not going to make it.  Blueberries, elderberries (one is dead), and raspberries and blackberries (these are all dead).  (It was a bad year for shipping plants! - the delays took just about half of my bare-root fruit plants.)

Maybe I'll dehydrate sliced potatoes if the blues don't seem to want to keep.

My other recent adventures include growing ground cherries from seed to accompany the one or two that come up in the lawn.  What wonderful little fruits!  I've got ten plants.  I've also planted a lot of borage, some comfrey, and a whole lot of flowers.

Thank you so much for your reply.  I am formulating other questions!

Anne
 
Posts: 43
Location: Kansas Temperate Zone
5
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Thank you for this thread post. I am interested in trying to grow the Caucasian mountain spinach among some of the others mentioned.
Haven't been able to find seeds locally. Can't wait to add this to my kitchen garden.

Where might one find seeds?

Larry
 
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Here's a question I go back and forth on. I have a septic system with a leach field. The leach field essentially has no other use, but it's an important one.
- I cannot plant perennials on it for fear of root disturbances.
- Between location and town ordinances I cannot graze animals on it.
- I cannot till it for garden beds without potentially wrecking it.
- I could build raised garden beds but if I never need to repair or replace something I have multiplied the labor of doing so.

Are there any ways I can increase this plot's utility?
 
pollinator
Posts: 324
Location: the mountains of western nc
79
forest garden trees foraging chicken food preservation cooking wood heat homestead
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Larry Jackson wrote:Thank you for this thread post. I am interested in trying to grow the Caucasian mountain spinach among some of the others mentioned.
Haven't been able to find seeds locally. Can't wait to add this to my kitchen garden.

Where might one find seeds?

Larry



experimental farm network sells them but they seem to be out of stock at the moment.
 
Anne Pratt
pollinator
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
112
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I got mine from J. Hudson, Seedsman. These require a lot of attention. See the thread on Caucasian Mountain Spinach.
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