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

 
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Young trees are doing well....

Kostas
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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On page 16, the top portion, we discussed the effort to transplant some Cypress and pine trees to the Katsika mountain near Thessaloniki...

This morning I went for a short walk on this mountain.

None of the pine and Cypress trees survived....I walked about half of the area I planted.

I only found one holly oak growing.... thankful and happy to see it!!!

Just one tree growing on the top of a mountain, can have a huge impact on the area, if a long term (100 years) outlook is adapted.

This fall I may try again.

Kostas
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Holly Oak
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Pine
 
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:

The cost of planting individual trees is cost prohibitive (time and money). Closely spaced, these trees can be used as ground cover, and once the ground temperature drops other trees can easily be grown among them.



I'm hoping to try this now that the rainy season is getting underway, with moringa seeds. We have a lot of goats to fight with, but I'm hoping we can best them with sheer numbers! If we plant thousands of seeds in a relatively close proximity, the goats can't kill them all! Moringa makes a great support layer because it doesn't give dense shade, fixes nitrogen, grows rapidly, is drought resistant, works great for chop and drop, and you can eat it!
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Priscilla,

You cannot fight the goats....

fence an area, even if its small then plant a large variety of seeds...

better yet plant in an area that is not grazed


Kostas

 
Priscilla Stilwell
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Hello Priscilla,

You cannot fight the goats....

fence an area, even if its small then plant a large variety of seeds...

better yet plant in an area that is not grazed


Kostas



There are no un-grazed areas. We're working on fencing the land, but 200 acres is a lot of fence! I actually think it will work. As weeds and grass have been provided more shade from finally maturing trees (right around campus being the only place that isn't regularly decimated for charcoal), even in the dry season the goats aren't able to out-graze the weeds. That's quite a difference even from last year when everything was grazed down to bare dirt. That should give enough diversity, along with the several thousand vetiver plugs I'll plant, to allow survival for at least a decent percentage. We'll find out.

My plan is to plant Lycenna, neem, and moringa in large numbers, along with the aforementioned vetiver. It's actually the human component that most drastically affects reforesting efforts.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Priscilla,
Fence a small area, like 10x10, plant with seeds or cuttings (no watering), and watch it flourish...this will guide you in the future.
For a larger plot you can use trees like gleditsia that have large thorns that even cows do not dare cross...they will grow fast and have multiple uses.
Kostas
 
Priscilla Stilwell
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Priscilla,
Fence a small area, like 10x10, plant with seeds or cuttings (no watering), and watch it flourish...this will guide you in the future.
For a larger plot you can use trees like gleditsia that have large thorns that even cows do not dare cross...they will grow fast and have multiple uses.
Kostas



I've already done that, but I think I didn't make the project clear. I live at the University in their guest house, with my husband and our fur kids. I'm working with the university to develop a large amount of it's 200 acres for agriculture through the agronomy program here. And part of that is to install a large food forest that will begin, along with the vegetable gardens, producing food for the several hundred students currently on campus. The fencing available is focused on the vegetables and smaller plots. I'm fencing individual trees with three posts, but we need to get organic material moving AND we need to be soaking the ground with the rain. Hence why the Swale system and various vetiver plantings will be important to start now. The longer we wait, the more difficult it will be later, or the less progress we can make.

If the land we were talking about was less than an acre, I'd agree with you. But not in this case. A small garden won't feed hundreds of students.

We are planting euphoria hedges, but the goats train "doorways" into them and they get knocked down. There is some wire fencing, but it lasts about 2 years tops around here before it rusts away. There are the traditional brush fences (which is around the vegetable garden currently), but those have to be actively maintained and repaired, at least two or three times a year. So our only real solution is cement walls. We're working with our engineering students to make a wall from a combination of local rock (which is plentiful in our area) and plastic bottles filled with sand and set with mortar. But again, I'm not waiting for that to be done, even though initially, we'll probably focus on enclosing 5-10 acres of campus.

Hope that helps to clarify.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Sounds like a wonderful and challenging project...

A food forest, especially from seed is a long term project...15+ years, but once established, it will forever feed a large number of people.

Kostas
 
Priscilla Stilwell
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Sounds like a wonderful and challenging project...

A food forest, especially from seed is a long term project...15+ years, but once established, it will forever feed a large number of people.

Kostas



Yes, a great project for the students here to be part of.

We will be getting most of our fruit trees already fairly well established at a meter or so, so it should begin producing to some degree in the next year, especially with some of the acerola cherries, mulberries, and such, and leaf crops like Chaya and morning. That, along with the vegetables will begin to take care of much of the campus food needs for the time being. We're also working towards a large banana and plantain garden intercroped with root vegetables and papaya and such. That WILL be fenced in though. Ha.

Currently we feed between 350-400 people each day with students, staff, and professors. A tragic amount of that food is imported, much from the US (PLEASE stop giving food "aid" to nations desperately trying to reclaim their agricultural industries!), and so we hope to change that drastically. Baby steps. Though my steps are like giant steps! Haha
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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I would imagine your ultimate goal is to reforest Haiti and turn it into a giant food forest...a garden of Eden, as it once was.

It's doable especially in s tropical climate!!!

You might be interested in an inexpensive solar oven...easy to put together...

https://solarcooking.fandom.com/wiki/E%26S_Solar_Oven

Kostas
 
Priscilla Stilwell
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:I would imagine your ultimate goal is to reforest Haiti and turn it into a giant food forest...a garden of Eden, as it once was.

It's doable especially in s tropical climate!!!

You might be interested in an inexpensive solar oven...easy to put together...

https://solarcooking.fandom.com/wiki/E%26S_Solar_Oven

Kostas



We actually have two large solar ovens that rarely get used here. Haitians almost never cook in ovens. They use them to make bread sometimes, but again, wheat is imported.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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I am sure you are training....raising a new generation that will do what is right and good
Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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The principles of Natural Farming, by Masanobu Fukuoka, San

1. No tilling of the soil
2. No fertilizers
3. No pesticides

It's been over 40 years since the publication of the One Straw Revolution, and the then obsurd ideas he discussed, have become the future, now.

The wall street journal published an article, describing how an Iowa farmer uses no till no improve the soil and capture carbon in the process. There is talk of using subsidies for farmers who do not till.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-get-rid-of-carbon-emissions-pay-farmers-to-bury-them-11568211869

It's amazing, how a small man, in the middle of nowhere, with a great idea,  comes to change the world...for the better.


Kostas



 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Fruit trees are often overlooked in reforestation schemes that prioritize hardiness, and that needs to change, says Ali Haider, the incoming director of Senegal’s Great Green Wall agency. “If you give someone a tree that she doesn’t need, she won’t take care of it.” Give her something she values instead, he says, something she can cook, sell or use for medicine. “Then she will protect it because it improves her life.

This is the 1st time I hear an official of any capacity state that fruit trees should be used in reforestation efforts.

Mr. Haider is stating the obvious.

The above is from very good Time Magazine article on Africa's Great Green Wall.

https://time.com/5669033/great-green-wall-africa/?amp=true

The author of the article comprehends the problem, and has answered many of my questions about this huge project.

The GGW project is more than just planting trees.

Kostas





 
Priscilla Stilwell
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It's the norm for people in Haiti to talk about reforesting with productive trees. Food, timber, and medicine, pretty much in that order (though they can clearly overlap). It's well understood that this is the only real way to make reforestation happen.
 
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An easy way to increase fruit production on your trees, is to use a French tree training method known as Espalier. Here's a link on how to do it and why it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AndkmfSBOs&t=2s
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank you for the link William.

Hello Priscilla,

Farmers want to "reforest" using fruit and nut trees to eat and make money, and forestry officials want to plant pine and acacia trees to create what they consider a "forest"

To a farmer, it's a waste of space and energy to plant  conifers, acacia, gleditsia etc and to a forestry professor,  apple or almond trees, are not considered a trees.

Such madness.

A healthy forest contains a large variety of trees, shrubs and grasses.

The objective is to create ground cover and new healthy soil. This is easier said than done in an arid zones.

I imagine it's much easier in the tropics.

I believe that every piece of land has a few trees and shrubs and grasses that it just loves to grow; and they grow easily/effortlessly there, by seed...just place the seeds in the ground and the appropriate species will grow, with no care or watering.

The hard part is to look, observe, learn and experiment to determine what to plant. In semi desert conditions you may need to start with grasses and shrubs to change the local microclimate.

Monoculture plantations of either forestry or farmer/fruit trees are a product of greed and are not good for the soil or mankind.

Kostas
 
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MY ilex rotundifolia acorns  are starting to fall.



Plenty still left on the tree though.



I just picked a nice big bowlful.



There are a few damaged ones that I'll pick out and give to the ducks.  But what do I do about the others?  Are they fully ripe or should I wait for brown ones to fall?  Should I pop these ones intp the freezer overnight to kill any potential bugs and then get them sent off as soon as possible?  All advice gratefully received.  I may repost this in the other thread too.
 
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Hi,
I am not sure that acorns of Q. ilex will sprout after being frozen deeply. The water inside the acorns may form cristals while freezing, which could destroy the embryo. I usually freeze seeds to destroy pests, but acorns cannot dry out completely and keep viability.

I inspected acorns individually for any holes or scar of a hole, thend put them in the fridge for a few months. There is a small risk of overlooking pests.
 
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Here is a very intersting podcast all about how to use edible acorns.

Edible Acorns Podcast

Burra, I have had acorn coffee prepared by an acquaintance in Porto. It wasn't at all like coffee but it was drinkable.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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I recently came across a tree that may become useful in our reforestation efforts.

While visiting the Pelion region of Greece, at one of the local restaurants we were offered a local delicacy, which was, we were told the preserved tender leaves if a wild tree that grows in the area.

After some investigation, it was determined that the tree was the wild pistachio tree...Pistacia terebinthus.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pistacia_terebinthus

Any tree that grows wild and has edible leaves and fruit, is a good find. I will try to find seeds and see if it fits our requirements for our efforts.

Its amazing to me that I never noticed this tree before. There is a hugh one growing at the southern edge of our farm...it must be 15 to 20 feet high. There are at least 3 more small ones growing on the farm….I had seen before, but paid no attention.

This useful tree, may join our small list of trees... certainly hope so.

Kostas




 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank You Burra,

I was wondering if we can wait until late October to collect acorns...that's the time we usually place them in the ground.

I hope your trees don't drop all the acorns before then.

I collected some pyrus spinosa fruit,  do you have this tree in your part of the world...I can send you some to try, if you don't have them.

Kostas
 
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Priscilla Stilwell wrote:There are no un-grazed areas. We're working on fencing the land, but 200 acres is a lot of fence! I actually think it will work. As weeds and grass have been provided more shade from finally maturing trees (right around campus being the only place that isn't regularly decimated for charcoal), even in the dry season the goats aren't able to out-graze the weeds. That's quite a difference even from last year when everything was grazed down to bare dirt. That should give enough diversity, along with the several thousand vetiver plugs I'll plant, to allow survival for at least a decent percentage. We'll find out.

My plan is to plant Lycenna, neem, and moringa in large numbers, along with the aforementioned vetiver. It's actually the human component that most drastically affects reforesting efforts.


Hey, Priscilla! I've been reading William Bryant Logan's Sprout Lands with great pleasure, and I highly recommend it. It talks about coppice and pollard used for all sorts of things throughout human history and much of the world, including for charcoal as well as fodder. If you were to engage the local community in planting trees that could be harvested for food, fodder, and fuel essentially forever as long as they were carefully managed (i.e. not over-cut at the wrong times -- this would have to be communicated clearly and get full buy-in to work), do you think you could get a pollarded food forest established and maintained as a community project? Fence the goats out just until the trees are established, then let them back in to graze underneath the level of the pollard cut, etc. That kind of idea is so exciting to me. I'm hoping that, with time and enough trees sprouted from seed, we can incorporate similar ideas here in our high desert grassland. Kostas, are you thinking of coppicing or pollarding any of your plantings once they're established?
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Good ideas Beth,

The idea of building a fence out of trees and shrubs, grown from seeds (or in tropical climates even from cuttings) is a good one, as is the concept that the "local population" needs to adapt the trees and the food forest.
Trees grown from seed really don't need much...no pruning no watering...may be scatter some seeds to provide green manure or throw some leaves around the base of the tree to help retain moisture.

Can you write a bit more about Sprout Lands...how far back in history does he go?

Do you have any information on the landscape in you area? Has it changed in the last 15,000 years...Was it always a desert?  What type of vegetation was there, say 1,000 years ago?


I have almond and apricot trees grown from seed at our farm that are over 12 feet tall....I don't prune them or water them... whatever fruits they provide, they are fantastic....we are greatfull for them...I don't want to fall in the chemical farming trap of expecting so many kilos of fruit each year.

In a few years the many apple trees grown from seed will start producing fruit...it will be interesting to see what varieties we get.

I wander if Burra's edible oak trees are still producing acorns? Burra?

I been very preoccupied lately and my reforestation efforts have been set back...I hope to start working on this in 2 to 3 weeks

Kostas
 
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Thanks, Kostas! I'll try to answer your questions:

Can you write a bit more about Sprout Lands...how far back in history does he go?


His writing style (which I love) is very literary and narrative rather than hierarchical or outlined, so things jump back and forth in time and ideas. This can make tidbits of information a bit difficult to relocate in the text. But in the third chapter, "Remembering," Logan writes:

"The practice of pruning to intentionally cause sprouts was as old as the last Ice Age, and it had been practiced not only in Europe but around the world.... Without [sprouts produced by pruning], human beings would not have made it past the Neolithic....

"By means of coppice, I discovered... West Africans had created a timed system of agriculture that gave lumber, grain, and vegetables and renewed the forest. By means of pollards and coppice, the Iberians had got wood, charcoal, vines, cork, ink, sweeteners, and fat pork. By means of coppice, the people of Japan had got an integral system of living that brought them rice, wood, pottery, poetry, and fire. By means of coppice and pollard, the peoples of Sweden and Norway since the Bronze Age had grown fodder for their sheep, goats, and cattle and wood for their stoves. By means of pollards, the Basques had got charcoal to make iron, wood to build and heat their houses, and they had crafted trees to make ship's timber. By means of fire coppice, the Indians of North and South American had cleared land for growing and got back poles to make houses, fashioned traps and weirs, and stimulated the production of fruit and nuts. By means of coppice, the women of California tribes had got slender stems to make the baskets to hold [and cook!] food and supplies, to carry burdens, to sift, and to cook a meal. By means of pollards on the Somerset Levels in England, the Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples had got poles to build the armature for foot bridges and withies to weave fences and the frames for walls. By means of pollard and coppice, Europeans had got the small wood to burn with limestone, kilning the quick lime from which they made fertilizer, disinfectant, and paint. By bending Douglas firs, the people of Mesa Verde had got upright poles to become the lintels of the cliff dwellings. By means of fire coppice, the people of the Amazon basin had created a shifting agriculture that enriched the rain-forest soils with slow-to-decay charcoal."

Phew!

Do you have any information on the landscape in you area? Has it changed in the last 15,000 years...Was it always a desert?  What type of vegetation was there, say 1,000 years ago?


I wish I knew more about this. I'd love to ask some of the Chiricahua Apache, whose homeland this was most recently. From what I've read and seen, several hundred years ago the sky islands (the mountains all around us) were (and still are surprisingly) verdant, diverse, and abundant, full of all kinds of trees and other flora and many different kinds of fauna, including plants and animals at the farthest northern reaches of their range like the jaguar (still found occasionally until the new walls keep them out). Between the sky islands, I believe the consensus is that the high valleys were largely grassland crossed by more densely vegetated riparian areas, and I'd imagine that at least some parts were mesquite savanna.

About 1,000 years ago, I believe the Hohokam and/or Mogollon were here farming what are mostly called "the arid desert valleys" (e.g. Paul E. Minnis, People and Plants in Ancient Western North America, 2004, p. 72). They domesticated and grew things like maize/corn, sunflowers, legumes, amaranth, mustards, and various grasses; and they encouraged and made use of cacti and mesquite as well as juniper, agave, and oaks for acorns from mountainous parts of the region. It seems the valleys were not what you'd call forested at that time, even before the collection of wild plants largely transitioned to agriculture, although the nearby uplands were (and still largely are).

Before that, folks like the geoscientist Paul S. Martin (somewhat controversial because of his "rewilding" theories, I believe) theorized that honey and velvet mesquite were brought north from their homeland in what's now Mexico (13,000 and 12,000 years ago, respectively) by megafauna like mammoths, mastodons, giant camels, and ground sloths -- brought in their digestive tracts and then, ahem, left here in a form ready to germinate and grow (here I'm summarizing Martin's student, Gary Paul Nabhan, from his 2018 book Mesquite: An Arboreal Love Affair, p. 63). Other plants we're currently surrounded by (and love, and eat parts of) like soap tree yuccas may have been "emerging from the denser canopies of the subtropics" during that time period, too, continuing to grow their flowering, fruiting stalks taller and taller "for the elevated presentation of their fruit by [to?] a number of the species in the Pleistocene megafauna" (p. 65). The thorns we're surrounded with -- not just on cacti but also on mesquite, acacia, ocotillo, etc. -- may have also developed then, to keep themselves from being eaten to extinction by large animals that later became extinct themselves.

One interesting thing I've heard but have yet to verify is that mesquites (and other leguminous trees and shrubs, many of which we have here: acacia, palo verde, etc.) absorb more carbon dioxide, sequester more carbon, and release more oxygen than other kinds of trees. I've also heard that mesquite are able to transport water from the monsoon rains deep into the ground via their roots, to store for later use not just by mesquite themselves but also by the many other plants they support as "nurse trees" (I may have read this in Nabhan's Mesquite, but his style is if anything more literary and narrative than Logan's and I can't find it again). Does anyone know more about this? What I have been able to find is that they "employ hydraulic redistribution to move water between soil layers," and this article seems to confirm the storage and later use idea but claims that the trees don't share their water well with grass.

Where does all that leave us? Umm... hmm. My thinking is that this area hasn't been what most humans would call "lush forest" for at least thousands of years, but it has long had very specially adapted tree and plant species that are very good at greening this land -- if, perhaps, with less verdant shades of green than we might normally think of when we envision that.

Oh, yes, and at some point, this was an ocean (marine fossils in limestone). What do you think, Kostas? How does it compare to where you are?
 
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Kostas, I haven't been active on the forum for some time, but I check your thread off and on anyway.  I just wanted to say what an encouragement you are, and how much I'm learning from studying this thread.  It was really hard for me to believe there was any chance of reforesting when I first started reading your thread, although of course I hoped you would succeed.  Now I see it differently and I think there's no chance you'll fail because you keep taking steps to learn, to plant, to continue the work.  Thank you so much.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Beth,
Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

Interesting write up on Sprout Lands; thank you.

William Bryant Logan also wrote "Oak: The Frame of Civilization". I started reading it, as I am interested in the history of this tree.

The practices of pruning trees, and coppicing and pollarding, are not natural. The author describes their use throughout history and how it helped mankind and that's good to know.

Trees should not be pruned.   We should let trees take their natural shape, and then let them be. Like everything else,we should aim for the minimum and let nature do the rest. This is easier said than done, and I personally violate the rule on pruning especially on olive trees.

Unfortunately mankind did not limit himself to pruning, coppicing and pollarding!!! They methodically deforested and turned into deserts entire regions of the planet, and that is what we are trying to reverse; it is not easy. When all you have left is a bare, stoney hill, it's not easy to turn it back into the beautiful forest it once was.

But I believe it's possible.

Thank you also for the good write up on the Sky Islands. How lucky you are that the land was for a long time under the stewardship of the Indians. I hope you will continue to look after it. Forces beyond your control may impact your beautiful forests. Its expected that the conifers will only survive in elevations above 3,000 feet, so you may lose some of your forest...let's hope not.

I also remember reading a scientific article about how the mesquite tree takes moisture with its roots near the surface and stores it deep in the ground ...simply amazing. The trees in arid zones like the olive and carob tree, probably use the same techniques.


To the question, where does this leave us, is an interesting one. Consider yourself lucky in that your area has not been inhabited by very active, civilized people like my ancestors who cut down all the trees and eroded the soil with a vengeance.

You should consider introducing edible fruit trees into your forest, like apples, plums and apricots. Turn your forest into an edible food forest, so in a way you become hunter gatherers again; lead an easy carefree life. All of the trees we discuss here should do well in your area.

We should all try to become food independent...it's nonsense to bring food from South America, Africa or from miles away when it can be grown locally for free. The same should happen with energy, water and waste disposal...each house, each community each city, independent to a large degree.

I am enclosing the following links to articles.

pine trees

Why only pine? Will they survive the next drought, fire or disease?


Agriculture

Its interesting and smart...big companies see the economic benefits of the example set by Gabe Brown and others...let's hope it works out for the best, though I am taking a wait and see attitude. Will the scientific and business communities take responsibility for the damage they helped cause by promoting chemical agriculture?


Genocide of Oaks

This is an article, written in Greek...google translate will turn it into mediocre English. I was looking for an article like this. I always wondered how the oak trees were decimated in this country. The author, Antonios B Kapetanios a Forestry officer and environmentalist, does an excellent job describing the thoughtless carnage and absolute greed/stupidity. There is just no other way to describe it.

This coming week I need to travel to the slopes of Mount Olympos, and collect holly oak acorns to plant this season.

Again thank you for your information.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Lori,

Nice to hear from you and thank you for the kind words of encouragement.

This journey I have been on is simply amazing...an eye opener.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Update on the young trees - EK2


The drought and high temperatures this summer has caused almost all of the young trees near Thessaloniki to lose their leaves...they look dead, and if indeed they are, it will be a significant loss. A lot of time had been spent putting seeds in the ground here.



As the video shows, it looks like the root system is alive...if it was dead the tree trunks would pull right off the ground. If in the spring they sprout and grow, it will ge a good reason to celebrate. To survive these young trees developed deep strong root systems at a young age and will be able to survive future droughts and fires.

We will anxiously await the verdict in the spring.

Kostas



 
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