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Reforestation - Growing trees in arid, barren lands - by Seeds and Clay cubes (no watering)

 
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Hi Kostas,

I feel very heartened when I hear about your forestation experiments - thank you.  

Where I am (west coast of Canada) we have much more rain, but summers get very dry and forest fires are more destructive every year.  Lately it has become public knowledge that the government has encouraged glyphosphate spraying of deciduous trees like aspen in order to favour the growth of commercial evergreens like douglas fir.  This has gone on for decades and now the wild fires can rip through the forest burning very hot and very fast where before glades of aspen and other leafy trees would slow the flames down.  Hopefully this practice will change soon.

Gen
 
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At my place everything is well, thanks for asking Kostas.

Maybe one thing that could be of use for you: the experimental farm network
https://www.experimentalfarmnetwork.org/

It allows researchers (anyone doing some kind of research, like you on tree planting) to show what they are doing, and ask for volunteers to help with growing stuff out. It is so far only in english-speaking countries, but maybe you could get some bi-lingual greeks like this? Or maybe they even agree to have the website translated?

It came from researchers who were disappointed that breeding projects often disappear when the one in charge retire. Therefore they wanted to make a network where people could take over if one stops.
 
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Thanks Hans,
That's an interesting website, and worthwhile effort....I will definitely give it some thought.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/climate/climate-change-natural-solutions.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fclimate&action=click&contentCollection=climate®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront


This is another interesting article by the Times....it points out the obvious....more trees and no till agriculture....let's hope we will head in that direction ASAP....

Kostas
 
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Very interesting thread, I tried to read almost everything!

Kostas what you do is very noble, I am discouraged to plant on land that is not mine because people can easily decide to cut the trees for their own benefit, the land you work with is very poor, it is really a hard work!

I was only thinking what my strategy will be for land that I will eventually buy, so I guess I can share it here.
First I will dig shallow holes when the ground is wet so that the soil wont be that hard, then at the end of summer I will use the scythe to gut any dead vegetation around and fill the holes(cutting the vegetation can turn very good ideas if people like to set grass in fire in the end of summer - stupid habit people here do intentionally I think), I will put the seeds under that vegetation, maybe it will be better to dig a little bit deeper and return some of the top soil back, the extra soil left can be placed at the eastern and western side of that hole so that when the sun is low it will not reach the ground in that hole.

I havent tried that its just what I am thinking, nature very often proves me wrong so I am not sure at anything anymore lol, maybe that can turn a very good breeding spot for snails that may eat some kind of germinating seeds, it happened to be once, but it was near a spot with clover that was breeding too many of these animals...

My other big problem is grazing animals, wild blackcurrants can provide some safe space for growing trees, but I guess they are not an option in many dry places like yours(we have a land like that here on hills with lots of erosion and grazing too), anyways I have seen that plant- Silybum marianum



Here grazing animals dont eat it, and it can grow in big piles of soil dug after some excavation works, nothing else seems to like these spots, its really dry, also very poor subsoil, so collecting and planting any sort of such nasty plants will be good for preventing grazing in many dry areas, at least in theory, maybe you can make a circles of such plants around the trees, or plant directly in spots with such plants.(their seeds are very easy to collect in the end of summer)

The other advice I think can help is to feed the carob seeds to a horse since the goats and sheep chew their meal a second time after they are resting(I am not sure about that word in english), and many of the seeds will be destroyed.

I wish you more rain and good luck with what you do, its nice for this world to have such people like you!

P.S.
I know most of my advice wont work in your case, since the big scale of your work, but someone here can find that useful, I have tried only growing trees from seeds very close and almost under blackberries, and they grow fine, even better than not shaded trees exposed to direct sunlight.(still I place them from the southern side of the bush)
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Borislav,
I hope you will get your hands on some land soon , and start working to serve it and care for it....its a great joy to observe nature and all its creatures. Let us know if we can help you with seeds.

Today,  I came across a small clay cube, I had scattered with tree medick seeds inside...its the 1st time I see it sprouting in a clay cube, and I hope it does well in the summer...it can be of great help, in reclaiming bare stony hills...I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Kostas
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Tree medick !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello everyone,
An update....I am visiting southern Greece near Sparta... Seeding area is around 350 meter elevation... Here the summers are longer and hotter than Thessaloniki which is 850 km north... Last year was difficult even in Thessaloniki... Down here it was about the same and probably hotter ... I found a few almonds... No plums apricots etc....nothing else...

But to my delight. I found 8 carob trees growing!!!

If this can be repeated in the following years,  it will be very helpful to restore the areas in southern Greece... The carob tree has amazing qualities...

Kostas
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Carob trees
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Everyone,

I have undertaken a project, which I will most likely not live long enough to see the results !!!

See images katsika 1 and 2. This small mountain behind Petralona Halkidiki, is bare, a ghost of its former self. The top soil has washed away and it is grazed by about 1500 goats from all its sides...there used to be over 50,000 goats in this area, some 50 years ago!!!

All the trees have been cut down.

There are only a few areas that are not currently being grazed.

I know that Pine and Cypress trees are not eaten by goats...I am told that goats will nip young pine seedlings as they go by them, if they see them.

I planted about 75 pine and cypress young trees along the top of this mountain, in hope that they will grow, and that the wind will scatter their seeds in all directions and begin the process of building top soil. I also planted some oak acorns and medick tree seeds...these are eaten, so there is not much hope for them.

To protect the young trees from the goats that pass by, I used stones, as shown in katsika 3.jpg

If anyone has tried to do a similar project, with the same constraints...input would be appreciated...any thoughts on what other trees are not eaten by goats ?
There are many areas around the world that have similar constraints, and something needs to be done.

Kostas
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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Laburnum,  by seed will join the pine and cypress trees.... goats do not eat the laburnum leaves,  they fix nitrogen,  and produce plenty of organic matter... Let's hope they do well!!!

Kostas
 
hans muster
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Kostas

If anyone has tried to do a similar project, with the same constraints...input would be appreciated...



Hi Kostas,
I worked in areas with similar problems. What is important to take into account is that you are not alone in the area, and that the technical aspect (which tree species for example) is just one aspect of many. The human and social aspects are probably more important.
Participatory Rangeland Management is a way to solve these problems, an introductory guideline is below.

http://www.fsnnetwork.org/sites/default/files/introductory_guidelines_prm.pdf

Furthermore, a monitoring is quite important as well. An easy to use method is in the link below. You may have to adapt some aspects to your local conditions (flora), but it is a great tool.
http://www.mpala.org/Monitoring_Guide.pdf

An idea: if you can work with shepherds, that they protect holly oak saplings and in exchange get acorns and pollarded branches every few years, it may have a huge impact on the long term. Holly oak is highly tolerant of pollarding, as long as it is not done every year.

If you have questions, do not hesitate to ask
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank You for the good advice Hans...
Community involvement and participation are beyond my scope...society, ie government representatives need to decide to protect the land...Shepards are barely making a living and are not the villains...

Maybe later on in in life I will tackle societal impacts and development.

Right now I am curious to see, what a single individual can achieve (I wish I was worthier to this challenge)

Kostas
 
hans muster
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Thank You for the good advice Hans...
...society, ie government representatives need to decide to protect the land...Shepards are barely making a living and are not the villains...



I never said shephards are the villains, I have worked enough with shepherds to know that often there is barely enough for food.

On the other hand, (at least in some places I worked, and judging from your pictures your places as well) the impact of goat and sheep herds leads to a destruction of the topsoil, leads to erosion, and dries out the aquifer.

Edit: to put it in another way: the shepherds are the key to aggradation.

The question are: who is Society, what is a communty, what is a government,... If community involvement is beyond your scope or interest no need to elaborate beyond the links given before.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hans,
You are right on target on everything you stated!!!
Kostas
 
hans muster
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Just found another organization restoring landscape in similar climate to yours:



or the website commonland.com John D. Liu is involved there, you probably heard of him.

Something else I thought of: if you plant lots of trees which are not eaten by livestock due to their toxicity, the shepherds may cut them down in a few years when your soil restauration starts to work.
Best
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank You Hans,

It's great to see people trying to restore the monoculture deserts we created...its the same everywhere....olive trees, grapes,  almonds etc...the land and water are highly degraded and the food they produce is very poor quality...

On the grazing animals...maybe if the world stopped drinking milk and eating meat....or greatly reduce it...
It will go a long way...we can find other work for the shepherds...a friend suggested to pay them not to have animals, and to guard the land and plant trees....now they get subsidies for the animals...for a few years...reverse the subsidies...

Cistus creticus (improves the soil fast) and Laurus nobilis will join the list of trees planted on these hills...

I am examining the idea of using a drone to scatter seeds and small clay cubes in areas that are not accessible by foot. I have ordered an inexpensive drone (xaomi)...will see how it goes...

As usual, your advice and information is appreciated.

Kostas





 
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Another benefit of laburnum is that it's excellent for bees!
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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James,
I was not aware that laburnum is loved by bees... Another plus....

The 3 pictures that follow tell an important story

The Tree Medick is sprouting in small Clay cubes in the middle of December.... I don't know if it will survive the frosts we get.... But the fact that this amazing shrub grows in small Clay cubes is a big victory... Small Clay cubes and seeds can be scattered by drones on inaccessible hills.

I have seen it grow on rocks,  and with it's nitrogen fixing abilities and it's organic matter production,  it will help rehabilitate bare stony hills.... Plus bees love it I am told,  as do goats!!!

Kostas
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Tree Medick
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Tree Medick
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Clay Cube
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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The last photo above,  shows an attempt to solve the problems I been having in my region with Fukuoka's Clay balls....

The problem is that the Clay dries out and the tree seeds in the Clay do not sprout... Some years when we have consistent rains in late winter and spring,  the method works and trees sprout and grow.

But for years like last year,  when we did not get enough rain and cold, the Clay cubes did not work...

Seeds like plums and wild pear,  placed in the ground sprout and grow even in difficult years... So I am making adjustments to see if the Clay cubes can mimick the properties of the ground.

Conventional seed ball production as taught by the great Masanobu Fukuoka,  San,  Jim Bones,  Panos Manikis and others,  involves mixing fine Clay, seaved manure or compost... seeds and water are added to the mix to create seed balls or whatever other shape is desired. The seeds are mixed in before water is added... Binding agents like straw or wool are sometimes added. There are many videos online that show this being done.

The problem as stated above,  is that seeds grow when placed in the ground,  but dry out in my Clay seed balls or Clay cubes... This happens in my dry Mediterranean climate in difficult years....

To try to get around this problem,  I made a batch of Clay cubes with the following properties....

5 to 7.5 cm square and about 2.5 cm height (large cubes)....
5 parts Clay 5 parts manure 2 parts alfalfa straw,  by volume.. the straw is cut to about 2 cm....
The seeds rather than mixed in,  are placed at the bottom of the forms... see the photo...
In the Clay manure straw water mix,  seeds like alfalfa and red clover were added to help shade the young trees as they grow...
Wild pears,  plums and tree medick seeds were used in these Clay cubes...

Placing seeds at the bottom of large Clay cubes will be like putting them in the ground... The soil in the middle of the cube will maintain it's moisture and allow the seeds to sprout and grow... Or so I hope.


If they do not sprout and grow it's because of my design.

I am hoping for the best.  Clay seed balls/cubes hold the key to reforestation and maybe our survival...

Nothing is easy,  and it may take several iterations before a correct design is found... If there is one!!!

Kostas






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Seeds in form
 
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Any thoughts of creating incidental water slowing and moisture capturing structures such as mini rock and soil swales, or half moon water catchments while casting seeds?
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thanks JD,

The idea with the seed cubes is to be able to scatter them quickly on foot or by plane.

Water catchments and swales will be needed as we move these projects into the deserts.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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All the best to all for the new year !!!

I am trying to solve the issue with the creature digging up and eating the almonds...it also dogs up the walnuts but does not eat them ...

The 1st attempt failed...I soaked the almonds in a mixture of water, laburnum leaves and branches and human urine...

The second attemp, yesterday, I will see this morning...I soaked the almonds in a slurry that contained plenty of sulfur powder...



Kostas
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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Update....

see enclosed photos...the creature ate the sulfur coated almonds, it actually took them away....I suppose to feed the family...

It did not touch the walnuts, as shown in the 2nd picture, and did not dig up the almonds that were planted in the soil...I suspect it will come again to dig up the almonds...

It could be that the sulfur, being more than 3 years old, lost its strength....or maybe diluting with water could cause the problem...

Kostas
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Almonds and walnuts coated with sulfur
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Almonds taken away...
 
hans muster
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Maybe you could try capsaicin, the "hot" of chili peppers.

Shawn woods soaked seeds in an alcohol solution of capsaicin, mice didn't touch it.


As the ethanol would probably kill the seed, I would mix the capsaicin in oil or grease (it mixes with oil and alcohol, but not in water) and smear it on the seeds. Not completely covering the seed to allow for respiration.
I don't think an animal will take a second nut...
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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That is a good idea Hans,

I want that to be my reserve solution for this issue....I would like to keep the cost to a minimum...the cost of sulfur is much lower than the hot peppers, but we may have to bear this cost....almonds, walnuts, pecans, chestnuts are all seeds that need to be protected, and hot pepper maybe the way to do it.

All these trees are essential to the reforestation efforts for many regions of the world...they not only cover the ground, they provide plenty of food for 2 and 4 legged friends.

Kostas




 
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Hi there Kostas,

my name is Bram and since October I live in Greece with my partner, we live near Marathonas. I am very interested in your efforts and am very happy to read your progress. I am already gathering carob seeds to plant when we go for hikes. I haven't read all the thread but I just wanted to post the following because it might just help you out a bit. It might have been posted before but still, in case it hasn't. There is this thing that people use in planting trees called 'bone sauce'. You basically boil the juice out of a bunch of bones and put it on your trees. The smell is horrible and some animals like rabbits and deer won't touch the trees. I would assume that goats wouldn't touch it either. Here is a video describing the whole process.

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank you Bram,

Welcome to Greece,

Glad to hear about your desire to plant carob trees...it's a wonderful tree....make sure to scarify the seeds...

Very interesting video on the bone sauce !!!

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Just visited an area, that was burned out last summer...an hour and a half south of Thessaloniki...the 1st trees are emerging...

its hope !!!

Kostas




 
hans muster
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Life springs back, nice to see

Do you have a source of acorns, especially of holly oaks Quercus ilex?
Or cork oak,  Quercus suber?

Oaks wih thick bark, especially the cork oak, are fire tolerant when big enough (young ones die with a cold fire). And I really like the holly oak, and there are some sweet ones which you can eat like chestnuts.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Hans,
Yes indeed....its a joyous occasion to see a new tree spring to life,  especially in a burned out area.

The policy of the forestry departments is to leave nature alone to recover...it's probably the same around the world...Maybe it's time to question this thought, especially when "FULL" recovery will produce a weak conifer forest...

the introduction of oaks,  and prunus family trees and many others maybe wise for the long term health of the land animals and people.

I am enclosing a photograph...it shows apricots and plums sprouting using the wet towel method.

Kostas
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Apricots and plums
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hans,
Yes I do have access to holly oaks,  nearby on the slopes of Mount Olympus...let me know next fall if you need some ...October November...

I may be able to get some cork oaks...I read that the local Aristotle University planted some, a few years ago...I can check to see if they are still around.

Kostas
 
hans muster
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My area is on the edge for the holly oak because of the cold. However, did you taste some of the oaks to check if they are bitter or sweet? If some of them are sweet I would take some.

In my opinion it would be worth to take the effort to plant a few oaks on top of each hill, to have seed trees for the next generation, with seeds falling downhill.

 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hans, I will definitely try them...I am always looking for food to forage...

and yes planting a few trees on the top of the hills can have a big impact..

Kostas
 
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Konstantinos, I love this thread and your mission; we have similar problems here in the Southern California area of the USA.  Original trees burned down, and do not come back, animals quickly eat reforestation/seeding efforts, hot and dry for most of the year.

What are those low-lying bushes in the photos; could they be trimmed to encourage vertical growth(become more like trees over time)? This could potentially provide more opportunity for understory plants to grow back and replenish/hold the soil?
 
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Konstantinos, I read / or watched a video recently about someone using coal dust to protect seeds from animals. I wish I could find the reference but I'm pretty sure it was in Africa. Might be something else to try or look up.

Do you happen to have small bushes popping up in the landscape? You probably already know about Tony Rinaudo and his work with Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) in Africa, right? If not, here is a link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6YEUJg9w7I

If you find that there are established bushes/trees with only a few twigs popping up, you could use this method to make them grow. Tony realized that these trees had huge root systems. They just needed a bit of trimming to force the tree to grow.

Dustin, where in Southern California are you? I'm in Carlsbad/San Marcos.

Sheri

 
hans muster
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Do you know of Ernst Gotsch?

https://lifeinsyntropy.org/en/what-do-cattle-eat-in-the-mediterranean/

He works on restauring degraded land in many places. Cistus sp. is his   in degraded mediterranean areas.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hans, its very interesting about Ernst Gotsch...I did not know about him,when I have some time I would like to read up on his work and experiences. Cistus  sp. is indeed a very useful plant in many ways (its also my favorite tea)

Sheri, I have come to admire the creatures that are eating my seeds...I have tried sulfur (both powder and wet -water and oil), cayenne pepper and ghost pepper. A few specs of cayenne pepper and I have a hard time eating the soups..as I understand it ghost pepper is used to deter elephants, and sulfur powder is used around here to keep deadly viper snakes away from houses. The mice are not bothered at all-see the enclosed video; I am glad to actually see them.  


I am sure we will find a way to work with these creatures, but for now I have had enough of this issue ( I been defeated !!!)

I was aware of Tony Rinaudo...we do get some shrubs and trees that pop pop all over the place, if a piece of land is not plowed...Quercus coccifera L. is a type of oak, that grows as a shrub, but if pruned grows into a tree...not sure if its the underground roots that come up, or if birds distribute the seeds....the same applies to wild pears and a type PISTACIA. We need to plant trees that will form complete forests that provide for all creatures, and are appreciated by all creatures (including homo sapiens...not convinced that we are so sapiens)...its do able-it takes persistence.

Dustin, the shrubs you are referring to are probably the Quercus coccifera L. - yes they can be pruned to form trees...they are also the main feed for the goats, and as long as they forage an area, these shrubs will not grow. We can plant trees and shrubs that goats do not eat, and hopefully we can better manage the goats so they do not totally destroy an area.

I have also enclosed a video that shows the use of a drone...its a powerful tool. A combination of persistence, common sense and some knowledge about seeds and nature, and these machines will help us reforest areas that otherwise would have been impossible to approach.





Kostas
 
hans muster
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Ernst Götsch is best known for the first video in the link below, which has english subtitles
http://www.agendagotsch.com/midias/

Some articles can also be found here in english
http://www.agendagotsch.com/artigos/

 
Goodbye moon men. Hello tiny ad:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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