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Absolutely no one believes this is possible here (Wyoming)

 
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I Know I have a walnut tree in my yard!
 
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I live in riverton wy. There is one black walnut in town that is amazing. I have seen a few that struggle to survive. As for fruit trees, the successful trees are in extremely sheltered areas. I have planted a lot of expirement trees at my place. I need to build up my soul more. I planted apples and plumbs 5 years ago. They are still alive but they haven't grown any taller at all. They are getting thicker every year but they are still 3 foot tall. I have planted hazelnuts and a bunch of other things but they die and start new from the bottom. Chockecherries are growing like crazy so that's what I am planning for my wind break around my orchard.
 
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Lots of apple trees in the Bighorn Basin area.(north central WY with zone 4 border line zone 3)  Most are in really sheltered locations such as down in the bottom of canyons or on north facing slopes.  The ones out in the open on the semi flat typically have a higher winter kill rate about once every 15 to 25 years.  Usually we get a warm snap bringing the tree out of dormancy and then a cold snap killing the tree.  Best survivor here is of the old ones seems to be Wealthy.  Some of the trees in well protected areas are probably nearly 100 years old.  There are the remains of dozens of orchards around and I can point to about a dozen surviving orchards with the rest dead.  Many died from simple neglect rather than winter kill problems.

If you are out in the open I would suggest lots of wind break rows and look into french tree walls.(maybe put the apple on the shaded side of the wall and other fruit trees needing warmer sunny side.
 
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elle sagenev wrote:I have planted a large variety of fruit and nuts trees already. So far so good though I'm noticing an awful lot of black walnut tree death. Fruit trees seem fine so far though. Anyway, everyone I talk to about growing fruit in Wyoming believes it to be impossible. They say that for my trees to be alive I must live in a much warmer part of the state than they are or have special something or other. We have really been brainwashed to believe we can't do anything but cows and wheat here. I ache to prove them all wrong. My husband is even a doubter. He is not sure that I can make money doing this. I say that if I do this I'll be an attraction state wide, even our neighboring states of NE and CO will come to see this. Never mind the value of our property if I manage to do the impossible and grow fruit trees here. Re-sale value will sky rocket.

So how do you all manage to be freaks where you are? To have everyone believe you are crazy and doomed to failure? I must admit that the more people who state it is impossible the more I doubt whether it is. Encouragement please!!!



How is this working out for you now, five years later?
 
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In one of the soil-building books on my shelf (I think it was "Teaming With Microbes", but I'm going by memory here), there was a story about attempts to plant trees from seed in Siberia, in an area that was completely treeless. Even species that grew in similar climates and temperatures, would either refuse to sprout, or would grow and be sickly before eventually dying.

Then, somebody planted a seedling they had dug up from a healthy forest, including some of the dirt it had originally grown in.

Much to everyone's surprise, the tree survived. And more astonishing, the sickly-looking trees nearby started getting stronger! Turns out, the soil life in the Steppes was so different, that the trees couldn't handle it. With the right soil life, they thrived.

I have family in Wyoming, and when they describe their growing conditions, I keep thinking about those trees in Siberia. Is it possible that inoculating the soil with a wide range of beneficial microbes and mycorrhizae might help the trees adapt better?
 
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They were right. It isn't possible.
 
T Bate
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:Much to everyone's surprise, the tree survived. And more astonishing, the sickly-looking trees nearby started getting stronger! Turns out, the soil life in the Steppes was so different, that the trees couldn't handle it. With the right soil life, they thrived.

I have family in Wyoming, and when they describe their growing conditions, I keep thinking about those trees in Siberia. Is it possible that inoculating the soil with a wide range of beneficial microbes and mycorrhizae might help the trees adapt better?



That's interesting. Presently, I'm renting and wouldn't want to plant trees here, but if/when I get some land I could do anything I wanted with, I would like to try this. It makes a lot of sense, especially since I can see the microbes and fungi in the original soil reproducing and spreading out to the other trees.
 
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elle sagenev wrote:They were right. It isn't possible.



I'm so sorry, Elle.
 
T Bate
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elle sagenev wrote:They were right. It isn't possible.



Somehow, I didn't see this post when I made my last post to this thread.
I'm sad it didn't work out. At the same time, I would be one who, like you, would want to try it anyway.
 
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Hi Elle,
Sorry to hear that you haven't achieved what you set out to do. I find that the best lessons I'm picking up from experienced growers are taught from their failures. If you're willing, I'd really appreciate to hear about what you found to be the biggest barriers. Do your trees die over winter or is it the flower buds that get hit by frost or is it something entirely different?
Thanks!
 
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elle sagenev wrote:They were right. It isn't possible.



I'm sorry your first attempt was unsuccessful. I am sure it is a true heartbreak that they didn't make it. Do you intend to give up and go to other projects or do you think that you might try again with more knowledge under your belt?

Armed with experience and more research, another go may yield greater success. I assume a blend of drought and high wind were major factors in the failure. Maybe stacking techniques could be helpful.

I've heard of training fruit trees to grow low to the ground can allow some (including citrus) to grow where they otherwise wouldn't be capable. Large stone or cob structures to catch the sun near trees and radiate it back on them. Protecting the young trunks in winter in some way. Just spitballing ideas to help improve your odds.

As to varieties, since you'd be starting from scratch, you would be better able to select for the area's challenges. For example, Manchurian Apricot is supposedly well adapted to Northern Wyoming. Some sour cherries and some extremely cold-hardy apples on crabapple stock are supposed to manage fairly well up that way also.
 
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elle sagenev wrote:They were right. It isn't possible.



Can you figure out why it seems to be impossible?  It isn't the cold, because I can grow fruit trees here, and it is colder here.  Length of daylight shouldn't be an issue, because again, it's worse here.  It isn't lack of cold hours.  Wind is a problem, but it's possible to put up small windbreaks to help with that.  So, is it that the soil is that bad?  Or lack of water?  Or ?  I'm not doubting what you say, but the phrase "isn't possible" is a challenge to me
 
elle sagenev
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D. Logan wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:They were right. It isn't possible.



I'm sorry your first attempt was unsuccessful. I am sure it is a true heartbreak that they didn't make it. Do you intend to give up and go to other projects or do you think that you might try again with more knowledge under your belt?

Armed with experience and more research, another go may yield greater success. I assume a blend of drought and high wind were major factors in the failure. Maybe stacking techniques could be helpful.

I've heard of training fruit trees to grow low to the ground can allow some (including citrus) to grow where they otherwise wouldn't be capable. Large stone or cob structures to catch the sun near trees and radiate it back on them. Protecting the young trunks in winter in some way. Just spitballing ideas to help improve your odds.

As to varieties, since you'd be starting from scratch, you would be better able to select for the area's challenges. For example, Manchurian Apricot is supposedly well adapted to Northern Wyoming. Some sour cherries and some extremely cold-hardy apples on crabapple stock are supposed to manage fairly well up that way also.



This wasn't one attempt. In fact I'm still stupidly planting trees. I've tried near everything more than once. Different locations. Different earth works. My barriers to success are HIGH! We are high. We are dry. We are cold. We are WINDY! We are a refuge for plant predators. Put it all together and I can't keep anything alive.
 
elle sagenev
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Trace Oswald wrote:

elle sagenev wrote:They were right. It isn't possible.



Can you figure out why it seems to be impossible?  It isn't the cold, because I can grow fruit trees here, and it is colder here.  Length of daylight shouldn't be an issue, because again, it's worse here.  It isn't lack of cold hours.  Wind is a problem, but it's possible to put up small windbreaks to help with that.  So, is it that the soil is that bad?  Or lack of water?  Or ?  I'm not doubting what you say, but the phrase "isn't possible" is a challenge to me



Combination of all things. In fact I started only planting trees inside my fenced garden area where I have drip irrigation going. Rabbits and ground squirrels are really happy with my efforts there. I planted in the bottom of the kraters for water and wind protection but then the snow blew over the trees and snapped them. For everything I try some new method of killing my plants is exposed. I just can't.
 
Trace Oswald
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I wonder if you only planted something like 3 or 4 trees if you could give each enough attention then to keep some alive?  It may even take something like hardware cloth fences, trunk guards, 180 degree circular windbreaks, drip irrigation, and maybe even some type of roof structure for 2 or 3 years to get them established.  It may seem like overkill to do all that, but if you could get 3 or 4 fruit trees growing, you could harvest a pretty huge amount of fruit.  Just some random thoughts, it may be that you have tried all that already.
 
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Elle, I'm sorry to hear about your dead trees    

Only after looking at the photos in the Obstacle course post on your site [ https://peacockorchard.com/2020/08/26/obstacle-course-step-3-zip-line/ ]  did I realize how open and free of any obstacles to the forces of nature your landscape is. The cards are not stacked in your favor when the answer to "well, what grows here naturally" is "nothing".

Without some strong windbreaks - shelterbelts the situation really looks bleak. Having those in place would, I would expect, make your situation more pleasant not only to any cultivated trees but also to the people.

Yes, it takes time for a bush/tree windbreak made of several lines to grow up sufficiently, especially in a harsh environment and human time is in the end the one truly limited resource. I've had a skirmish with cancer this year (hey it's 2020) so this realization rings all the more true. Still - unless you are thinking of just moving away, I believe establishing good windbreaks is a must.

The young bushes/trees making them up will need some kind of a mechanical barrier protecting them in the first several years or it will easily take more than a decade. Fence, water, mulch - do all of that generously. And be aware that converting this open, empty land into a semi forested oasis *will* take a decade. Be sure you're OK with that. Maybe it's not entirely "we're doing it for the grandchildren" but it's not entirely different either.

While our situation is not as brutal as yours, we're still in an open plain with winds up to about 50 mph. Rows of densely planted hazel, hornbeam and willow made a big difference for us. Willow and hazel, while being really fast growers, hardy and not at all prone to breaking, may not sound like something that can catch wind. However planting them close together, intermixed and in several rows does the trick.

(Autumn olive is in my experience also a very resilient bush but I've noticed that often when young it grows so fast, it's not sufficiently strong-rooted and strong winds can rock and dislodge them. Fully grown bushes are great for shelterbelts but young ones can require staking in a super windy situation.)

This is not to say that you should absolutely pick those trees. You'll know best what the traditional "tough as nails, grows quickly" trees are in your geography. It's just a starting point for your consideration.

Just thinking out loud - maybe some earthworks could be helpful here. Dig up soil in a long line, get a nice watering trench that you plant your windbreak trees along, and at the same time make a little hill - a barrier with the excavated soil. Stuff the trench with mulch. Get cats to deal with creatures wanting to live in it and munch on your windbreak. Get wild roses to sneak among the trees, look pretty and feed the birds. ( ... to feed the cats, some would add.)

In your Obstacle course photos linked above I see a distant building surrounded by trees taller than itself. What's the history there? Are those neighbors that you can talk to regarding how they made it work?
 
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Some time ago I posted an idea of what a sunken farm in the desert could look like...
DE47DFAB-60DB-4E41-B26C-CDE8AE345C92.png
[Thumbnail for DE47DFAB-60DB-4E41-B26C-CDE8AE345C92.png]
 
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Elle, hope the bs isn't getting you down too bad, i wanted to stop by and leave a few words, as well as ask for some updates, if you're willing.

A few years back i remember coming out for a quick tour of the young prioperty and i remember a few things that I thought were particularly unique about your site, the first being that you used a trencher as a quick way to form water harvesting features and to help keep the driveway dry during wet periods, hows that working out?
second was the collection of "pit gardens" that you had about and the few swales around, have those done ok? perhaps green grasses near the botom and struggling plants on the sides or is everything doing well?
third, i know you had a good collection of young trees about the place, has survival rates on all of them been terrible or have a few survived? p.s. where I'm at in the plains north of casper, i tend to consider 5-10% survival rate a raving sucess lol! for example I placed over 100 cuttings and bare root plants in the ground last spring and I'd be surprised to see any of them come up.

I will say that the trees that tend to transplant the best for me are 3-5 years old, thye seem robust enough at that age to develop a root system and survive, the one years tend to die during their first summer when the droughts come.


and i remember that you were growing osage orange, are those still alive and kicking?

Your greenhouse, btw is looking much better than mine and definitely more ready for the 2021 season!

Keep your head up, from one wyoming hippy to another!


Something I am attempting this year to protect plantings from the wind is debris fencing and planting trees within that, perhaps thats an option?
 
Crt Jakhel
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Devon makes a very good point of planting 3+ years old trees, or anyway trees with a well-developed root system. Important stuff. We lost quite some trees / bushes due to being overly courageous and planting them very young - their growth was extremely slow, they could not prevail in their new environment so most of them were eventually replaced.

 
Devon Olsen
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also, I'd just like to add that I am one of the crazies that do believe it's possible here, just difficult, so you're not alone!
 
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I read the whole thread and have a few suggestions. I think it may be wise to start with rootstocks first; get them established. Take apples which I know more of than other fruits. Antonovka is considered to establish a strong root system and is fairly cold hardy. I don't know how it does in a dry environment. Another option may be the B118 apple rootstock which is from Russia, actually Poland I believe. There's a thread on another site that may be useful as they discuss cold hardy apples and apple rootstocks.

There are two apples, that I know of that reproduce well from seed. One is Famuese. This is an edible apple which will reproduce from seed; which would give you trees with no graft to break. The link is to a nursery in Maine; which doesn't sell seeds. I bought Antonovka seeds from F. W. Schumacher Co for under $11. There must be at least a 100 seeds in the pack. I'd suggest you plant the entire pack into a nursery bed covered with screen to protect them from pests? Squirrels here.

Peaches grow well from pits and are said to reproduce fairly well. There are peaches that are more cold hardy.

You might consider buying fruit grown locally and planting the seeds. These may be landraced to your area and do better than seeds from afar.
 
elle sagenev
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Devon Olsen wrote:Elle, hope the bs isn't getting you down too bad, i wanted to stop by and leave a few words, as well as ask for some updates, if you're willing.

A few years back i remember coming out for a quick tour of the young prioperty and i remember a few things that I thought were particularly unique about your site, the first being that you used a trencher as a quick way to form water harvesting features and to help keep the driveway dry during wet periods, hows that working out?


It is still working out as a water diversion from our driveway. Works incredibly well actually.

second was the collection of "pit gardens" that you had about and the few swales around, have those done ok? perhaps green grasses near the botom and struggling plants on the sides or is everything doing well?


My answer here is yes and no. They do work to collect water I have had plants volunteering in them. Grasses mostly. They do not work as the ground animals and rabbits find it all too easy to hide in them and eat EVERYTHING. It matters not what I do to protect them. If I protect them above ground they simply go under. At this point I need a cement moat sunk at least 3' in and 3' out to protect anything. I did try planting trees into the exact bottom of the kraters as well, to help with water. That worked well until they filled with blowing snow and the weight of it snapped the trees off. I can't win.

third, i know you had a good collection of young trees about the place, has survival rates on all of them been terrible or have a few survived? p.s. where I'm at in the plains north of casper, i tend to consider 5-10% survival rate a raving sucess lol! for example I placed over 100 cuttings and bare root plants in the ground last spring and I'd be surprised to see any of them come up
I will say that the trees that tend to transplant the best for me are 3-5 years old, thye seem robust enough at that age to develop a root system and survive, the one years tend to die during their first summer when the droughts come.


I've planted a wide range of ages as sizes of trees. The plants from One Green World have the best root systems and survive our drought conditions the best. However, that helps them little against the little furries.

and i remember that you were growing osage orange, are those still alive and kicking?


Eaten. Completely. They survived a good 3 years but constantly being eaten off finally killed them.

Your greenhouse, btw is looking much better than mine and definitely more ready for the 2021 season!


The wind blew two windows out so far this year. One I was able to put back up, the other shattered. The hole is currently filled in with sheet metal. So I'm not so sure about that. Plus I have no idea how but birds have found a way in. I was just asking my husband yesterday if there was a poison for sparrows on the market. I need it.

Keep your head up, from one wyoming hippy to another!
Something I am attempting this year to protect plantings from the wind is debris fencing and planting trees within that, perhaps thats an option?


I have done several variations of this so far. I built a tire wall that was rather curvy out in the pasture. It's been doing good things for the snow. The trees there were doing well too. We just walked this weekend though. Eaten.

Honestly ya'll, I appreciate the support but I'm pretty done. I'm severely depressed about the whole thing. I just keep telling my husband my heart wants green growing things and I'll never have them. I've even waged war on all living things, which is very unpermie of me. We have cats that are doing a lot of killing and boy, we need more of them. We shoot things. I happily throw rolos down every hole I see. We turn a blind eye to the activities of a very happy badger. We see hawks on our telephone poles. Our rodent population is just completely out of control. Every single thing I do to try to grow things just helps the rodents further. We had to cut down a bunch of dead trees and we piled them up in a brush line as a snow fence. Worked wonders but it also worked wonders to protect a rabbit from a hawk. I actually watched the hawk try desperately to get through to this rabbit time and time again. It couldn't. /sigh
 
elle sagenev
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John Indaburgh wrote:I read the whole thread and have a few suggestions. I think it may be wise to start with rootstocks first; get them established. Take apples which I know more of than other fruits. Antonovka is considered to establish a strong root system and is fairly cold hardy. I don't know how it does in a dry environment. Another option may be the B118 apple rootstock which is from Russia, actually Poland I believe. There's a thread on another site that may be useful as they discuss cold hardy apples and apple rootstocks.

There are two apples, that I know of that reproduce well from seed. One is Famuese. This is an edible apple which will reproduce from seed; which would give you trees with no graft to break. The link is to a nursery in Maine; which doesn't sell seeds. I bought Antonovka seeds from F. W. Schumacher Co for under $11. There must be at least a 100 seeds in the pack. I'd suggest you plant the entire pack into a nursery bed covered with screen to protect them from pests? Squirrels here.

Peaches grow well from pits and are said to reproduce fairly well. There are peaches that are more cold hardy.

You might consider buying fruit grown locally and planting the seeds. These may be landraced to your area and do better than seeds from afar.



I do have a peach tree that has survived thus far. Plums seem to do the best as far as survival and the worst as far as setting fruit. Of the original trees I planted the only 2 remaining are plums. I've yet to get any fruit from anything. They bloom early, the blossoms freeze, end of story. Of the few fruit bushes I've had the fruits have been eaten before I ever get to them.
 
Nick Neufeld
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Thanks for taking the time to share details of your challenges. It's helpful for my planning and helpful for me to manage my expectations.

You may find your energy again to fight this fight. If you do, I might suggest building on your successes. For example whatever berry bush is feeding your critters. Maybe you can plant many more of them. Or your early blooming plum trees - try to source some scion wood of a late blooming plum and try some bud grafts in August - just be sure to graft them high enough that the critters can't get them.
 
Crt Jakhel
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elle sagenev wrote:Honestly ya'll, I appreciate the support but I'm pretty done. I'm severely depressed about the whole thing. I just keep telling my husband my heart wants green growing things and I'll never have them. I've even waged war on all living things, which is very unpermie of me.



In my non-certified opinion permaculture still has a human at its heart. It's about working with nature to enhance the condition of both your environment and yourself. In this interpretation, wearing yourself down pushing that boulder up Sysiphus' hill is not permie. Being constantly frustrated is not permie. Maybe even persuading a desert of grass to stop being that is, from the outset, not permie - it's not just being there to randomly annoy you, it evolved.

Often the secret of winning is in choosing your battles, conserving and redirecting energy to live and prosper another day, another place. In a completely different context - company startups - there is a saying: fail early, fail often. Whicih means: learn to recognize what's not working early so you can direct your energy to the next attempt that just might work out -- instead of pouring more and more of time, energy,  money down the drain and thus lessening your ability to try something else.

Yes, in the very extreme this can mean that one just skips from one situation to another, always giving up quickly but in the end 1never accomplishing anything. But from what you've described so far this is not you at all. I wish you all the luck, you'll find your opportunity for happiness.
 
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Elle,

Sorry to hear of your setbacks, certainly sounds frustrating. You are dealing with much higher animal pressures than I am used to.

My suggestion would be consider making just 1 extremely fortified small tree/plant cage. My gut feel would be something 4' square, with 8x 10' t posts set 2' down so 8' high, cladded with cattle panels for structure (bend the corners and they get really sturdy) and then wrapped with hardware cloth or similar, covering the top too. One easy to undo section for access. Drive some pointy fence ends into the ground and line inside that with pavers to discourage digging. Make one small but sturdy wind break that you can use with this setup. Obviously you would need to adapt these suggestions to your situation.

Put this setup over a tree, until the tree is old enough to fend for itself. Probably several years minimum, likely when the tree is outgrowing the cage. Then you can disassemble and use it again for another tree.

If it works well, you could consider making another one in future years.
 
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elle sagenev wrote:They were right. It isn't possible.



Wyoming is a harsh place but most of the people are very nice. Out in the dirt and wind is lots of failure of past generations.
 
I found some pretty shells, some sea glass and this lovely tiny ad:
Greenhouse of the Future ebook - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/greenhouse
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