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

 
pollinator
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The Great Green Wall

Hopefully the reporter is mistaken and other parts of the project are going well !!!



Kostas
 
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I don't think the whole project is collapsing, but the initial plantings like the field in this video are definitely failing. It is not the whole picture though, there are better approaches to reverse desertification that are being incorporated into the Great Green Wall project. The "Great Green Wall" Didn't Stop Desertification, but it Evolved Into Something That Might  Regreening the Sahel

I believe that the starting point of this project was more aligned with a conventional mindset, thus resulting in the failure. As far as I know, there was little local knowledge utilized and obviously observations and trial and error (like we do in this thread) were not exactly in the focus as they really wanted to do it quickly and what we do takes time. This happens when reforestation is misguided (or unguided), it is clear as that to me.
 
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Kostas, there is something you might not have considered, and that is planting vigorous, drought-tolerant, sun-loving, non-shade-tolerant perennials that hold soil moisture and facilitate tree growth before you plant trees. One thing that has evidence of working is pampas grass, although trials are just getting started.
 
Myron Platte
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Yeah, with the great green wall, it looks like someone got the idea that any problem is fixable as long as you throw enough money at it. They need to texture the land a bit. If they paid the local population to dig swales and plant only one tenth or hundredth of the trees that they have been, but in dense polyculture, and in swale trenches instead of on flat land, and taught the herders how to properly, rotationally... or even used attack helicopters to saturate an area with seed balls...
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thanks for the article Güneş,
Very informative-I was looking for something like this.

I am sure that along this 6,500 km wall, there are all kinds of stories to be told. A comprehensive survey of the whole project needs to be done, so we know where we are and how far we need to go.

Myron, I had not considered pampas grass. I wonder how it would do on areas that have very little soil/almost bare stone; we have many areas like that unfortunately. The seeds of the pampas grass can be mixed in with the other seeds in the clay balls or directly seeded.

Good points on the Green Wall... totally agree.

It looks like the world is waking up (climate change conferences) and beginning to face the problems created by greed in the last few centuries, and especially the last 50 years.

Let's hope that the solutions adapted are well thought out and don't create more severe problems of different kinds.

Kostas
 
Myron Platte
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:
I wonder how it would do on areas that have very little soil/almost bare stone; we have many areas like that unfortunately. The seeds of the pampas grass can be mixed in with the other seeds in the clay balls or directly seeded.


I do not know specifically how pampas grass will fare on very little soil, but I would think it should do fairly well. Mullien can grow on bare stone, and even break it up. Coltsfoot easily grows in pure sand. Lupine does well in very poor soil as well, and is a nitrogen fixer. My idea is that some of the areas you are planting in are just too difficult for the trees by themselves, and they need some help from other plants to have a chance at survival.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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You have a good point Myron.

I have been debating this issue of planting trees close enough to each other so they become the ground cover and produce new soil vs using green manure crops to improve the soil and then plant trees.

Time will tell what is the best course. Of course a combination of the two can be used, but it's a question of allocating finite resources.

It's also going to be site specific.

Kostas

 
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Kostas, I have noticed since replanting drought hardy plants like rosemary that we have several trees coming up from underneath the hardy shrubs. I think you could use this strategy to initially cover soil or rock so that the succession starts to accelerate. I’ve seen oaks come up through rosemary and saltbush, the latter being a native plant that is extremely hardy. My reasoning is that it shades the soil and it allows for the late succession trees to be protected and eventually shoot through the shrubs and become the more dominant species after time.

Not sure what other shrubs might work for you. Maybe rock rose? Lavender?

Your work is awesome and inspiring!
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Heath,
Your reasoning is solid.

Shrubs like the ones you mentioned will allow seeds and trees underneath to emerge and become dominant in time.

Glad to hear Bakersfield has not turned into a dead landscape and that oak trees emerge from underground and survive.

What does the future for wild food forests and reforestation look like there...is there activity to plant trees.

Kostas
 
Heath Emerson
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Heath,
Your reasoning is solid.

Shrubs like the ones you mentioned will allow seeds and trees underneath to emerge and become dominant in time.

Glad to hear Bakersfield has not turned into a dead landscape and that oak trees emerge from underground and survive.

What does the future for wild food forests and reforestation look like there...is there activity to plant trees.

Kostas



Well, our city is somewhat of an anamoly. Most residents here have green lawns and exotic ornamentals that are water-thirsty. It’s an illusion to live here because people want it to be an oasis but it’s so unsustainable. You can see how much water we have drained from the surrounding landscapes of Bakersfield. It looks worse and worse every year.

I think there are some people that would like a wild-style food forest in their yards as replacements to their cookie cutter landscapes. I usually receive compliments on our food forest. Mostly everyone is intrigued by it and calls the neighborhood jungle! I’ve wanted to do a bigger project for a while now but nothing has lined up yet. Land is expensive and beholden to the corporations so it’s hard to find land that will not get me in big trouble. It would be really cool to do a large-scale food forest project here because I think we could bring back the rains. It hardly rains anymore. We get less than 6 inches on average now per year. But from what I have read about the history of this place, it was forested at one point with mesquite, oak, cottonwood, willow, and sycamores especially when the river was not dammed. I’ve heard that we got over 12 inches of rain or more a year because the trees created it. Wouldn’t it be so cool to do a 100 acre or bigger food forest and see if we could change the precipitation levels over it compared to the surrounding area?

I’m always hopeful I’ll find a landowner who wants to do something like this!

Until then, I can read about your project to stay inspired!
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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“Finding the mother tree” book by Suzanne Simard.

Good article by the NY Times.

Times Article

Trees in a healthy strong forest communicate, help each other by providing resources to sick members of the community, a mother tree guides and protects the others.

Man's attempt to plant monocultures and by treating trees and forests as objects to profit from and exploit are unfortunately destined to fail.

Interesting concepts...we know so little.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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An update,
We have undertaken to work with a rather difficult site. See photos 1 & 2; it is the side of a highway. When the roadway was constructed the rock was blasted away and 2 levels were created to hold the loose rocks/soil. This must have been 30 years ago +/–.

From what is visible we have rock all the way top to bottom; there is a thin layer of soil on the flat surface. I tried digging; the rock is hard, but it is not like concrete or granite. With some difficulty I dug down 4 to 5 inches.

At the top, we see wild oak shrubs growing. There is a wild pear tree growing at the second level. At the 1st level, there are 2 fig trees, a wild pear tree a robinia acacia, and a walnut tree.

We are working at the 2nd level.

There is a herd of sheep in the area, but the don't climb to the level we are working on (if it was goats…). No wild pigs or rabbits so far.

From the previous years, that we planted, a few almond and apricot trees survive (no more than 5). These are growing at the corner of the horizontal and the vertical face of the rock where some crushed stone/soil has accumulated (50 to 60 cm). See photo 3.

The trees planted this year are mostly almonds, some apricots, and oaks - evergreen and deciduous.

The almonds and apricots are stressed and some have died already - see photos 4, 5 and 6. I suspect that the root system hit the rock and cannot penetrate further to find food and water. If 1 in 10 of these almond and apricots survive, I will be happy.

The oaks are doing well so far, especially the evergreens- see photos 7, and 8. In photo 7 we see the oak is doing well, and almond is losing leaves. Its early to predict how the oaks will do; the late August heat tests even the most resilient species.

A small video enclosed gives a better view of what we are dealing with.

Going forward - the earth is giving us hints. The wild pear trees and the oaks should do well.

The area nearby has plenty of spartium junceum (spanish broom) and we will collect seeds and try them (if anyone has experience growing them from seed….) The fig trees and robinias - the same; I have no experience growing these from seed also.

The walnut tree I view it as an aberration...but its there and its doing well; we should try a few.

Kostas
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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And a small video view of the site



Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Not a problem...best of luck
Kostas
 
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What an amazing thread! I live in wetter climates, but I do like to daydream about creating a forest in drier climes!

In terms of the Green Wall, folks here might like to see this: https://trees.org/post/aerial-survey-report/ .  It shows how farmers using agroforestry/permaculture methods can transform their own land.  If you go to the link with the full study there's plenty of drone photos before and 1 year later (https://trees.canto.com/s/K9P29)

All the best!
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank you for the link and the info Patrick.

It's interesting and very encouraging to see land being restored.

Hopefully we have enough time to reverse the damage.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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A 2nd update,

The second site we would like to report on is the extreme opposite of the above site.

The site is unattended, no one has cut the grass over the years so soil has been building up year after year and we have plenty of organic matter. Judging from the size of the grasses and plants we have a deep layer of rich top soil. It is by far the richest land I have worked with.

See photos 1 2 3 and the video below.

The site is less than 100 square meters and one of our goals here is to create a community forest garden with minimum time and money.

The principles of natural farming as outlined by the great Masanobu Fukuoka, San will be followed. A large variety of trees (no monoculture) and not just fruit trees. The three principles of natural farming will be adhered to. No tilling, no chemicals and no weeding.

Besides being good for the soil and trees, it is unnecessary labor.

Once the trees are grown, I hope by year 7, the grass and plants will be cut and clay balls will be used to seed edible plants.

Another five sites like this have been selected and planted and will continue to plant in the next 4-5 years for the same purposes. They range in size from 100 to 2000 square meters.

At this time we cannot see if any seeds have sprouted. We will have to wait until fall to see what pokes out from the ground if anything.

I hope to see strong vibrant trees.



Kostas
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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The third update.

This is also the side of a highway; another road cut. See photos 1 and 2.

Unlike the first update (bridge) we have a deep layer of red clay top to bottom, instead of stone; on the top we have pine trees. The cut was also made about 30 to 35 years ago.

The horizontal surface area we are planting is about 3 meters wide by about 70 meters long.

The existing vegetation we found is a wild pear tree, two apricot trees, one of which died last year and a few young pine trees. The pine trees in the area are sick.

In the last four years we sporadically planted almonds and apricot trees and as shown the video in the photographs some have survived.

This year we planted more seeds and placed three or four stones to mark the location of the new trees. By the end of the summer we want to see how many trees have survived and what kind of trees do well.

We planted many oak trees, evergreen and deciduous, some almonds, apricots and apples. Like everyone else, I continue to ignore/minimize the use of wild pear trees; must be corrected !!!

Over the next few years we will continue planting and monitor the progress of the site.

Every site is different and responds differently to the weather patterns and the trees it prefers.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Photos
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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And a vid



Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Another small video update.

I am begining to visit the newly planted trees this summer.

If one were to look at these trees, they would be discouraged-but trees grow in this manner, and it its probably the best way to reforest an area.




Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Update



The almond seeds were placed in the ground 6-8 years ago. The soil is a deep, tough red clay soil. As can be seen they are doing fine under difficult conditions.

The apricot seed must have been tossed by the construction crew 30 plus years ago. It's loaded this year.

The cactus pad was thrown on the ground 7 years ago. See page of this forum...a bit down from the top is a picture of it.


Some time back I did some rough calculations...I think it costs less than 5 cents per tree (0.05 euros); yhst includes buying the seeds and paying someone to plant them.

kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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See page 3 of this forum (a bit down) to see the cactus pad when it was planted.

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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A few words about “planting” cactus pads.

They should be planted in sunny hot dry locations...usually the south facing side of hills. They don't do well on wet and northern slopes.

Drop them on the ground so they are in contact with the soil... don't put them on top of grass or weeds.

I suspect they can be dropped/planted any time of the year, but it may be better in the spring or fall.

They are a good source of food and a great reforestation resource.

Kostas

 
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How is the forestry project now? I might be almost 10 years late but that just means I get a project update!

I'm considering moving out to a move dry climate (currently in Michigan USA) to see what knowledge and skills transfer climate zones. I just may try these ideas given the chance!
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Good luck with the move Robin,
The project is moving along, gaining knowledge and experience.
Look through the last 3 pages of this thread...some good summaries have been written.

I will try to answer any questions you may have.

Kostas
 
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Speaking of almonds:

I see some raw almonds for sale locally but I cant get them in the ground until Winter. Will they survive in a box and should I keep them from moisture, or should I pot them in damp earth? Any direction most appreciated.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Michael,

Store them as they are, with their shell in a dry cool place (basements will do)

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Continuing the summertime visits to the young trees...this is near Thessaloniki.

Struggle for life as temperatures soar.

Kostas

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Konstantinos Karoubas
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It's interesting to note that none of the apple trees at this location survived; they are doing well at other locations near Thessaloniki.

Each individual site, will have different trees that do well; the microclimate and site conditions vary even a few meters apart.

Kostas
 
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Have been running an experiment to see how long I can store acorns.

These were collected in December and kept in a closed  black plastic bag in a dark basement. These are from an evergreen oak tree, and as shown below they are doing fine.

One of the constraints of oak trees, I have read and have been told is that you need to plant the acorns within 2 weeks (soon) from the date they are collected.

For this coming fall, I plan to store them as described above and plant them in early October, or after the first good rains (soft ground).

If anyone has any experience...I would like to have a gps program, that will allow us to map the location of seeds planted...within a meter or less accuracy so we know what areas have been planted and to sample check survival rates. An off the shelve application is preferable (i have not started looking at it yet).

All around me the pine forests planted 30 to 50 years ago are sick and dying at an accelerated pace.

This huge problem creates a huge opportunity to plant much better forests that also include nut and fruit trees...if the managers of these lands agree.

Kostas

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Konstantinos Karoubas
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An update at a planting site near Thessaloniki - about 25 kilometers.




The video shows young trees growing at 380 meter elevation. The climate is milder than Thessaloniki. The young trees are growing under the cover of cistus incanus - they also benefit from the organic matter provided by the dead leaves of cistus incanus/rock-rose.

It is also interesting to note that the rock-rose leaves have a sticky substance on them and the goats don't eat them and avoid going among them.

In the video we see oaks, almonds, apricots walnuts plums and loquat growing. The walnut and loquat, I think were transplanted, but never watered.

It is still mid july...a long way to go before the stress of the summer is passed. We will see in October how many of these survived.

These trial plantings will guide us in reforesting a nearby pine tree forest that is sick and dying. The soil under the pine trees is acidic so I don't know how our trees will do there.

It's been a brutal summer with high temperatures so far.

The videos that will follow show how differently two sites in Thessaloniki are behaving.

These summertime visits,  while not to my liking provide a lot of information.



Kostas
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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An update on a reforestation location labeled z difficult site.

As expected most young trees are dying.

No ground cover,  no top soil with organic matter, and a stone/granite sub soil stratum.

Kostas
 
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Hi Kostas. I was thinking about your project and I thought thay maybe broadcasting a seed mix of ground covers and the like, Sepp Holzer style, might help the trees to grow better, having more n fixers, dynamic accumulators and useful plants. You could just try it in a couple of locations and see what happens, throwing around clover, borage, fava beens... for 100 or 200 euros you could have enough seeds to cover two full locations, and do the job in 10 minutes.

Maybe is useful, maybe dont
 
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This is a July 10th update.

Video shows young trees at the site labeled  "Reforestation at red clay soil profile site" see previous vid



As mentioned before we are experiencing a difficult summer and its nice to see these trees doing well and surviving.

They have a long way to go before the fall cool temperatures and rains come.

I consider it a "miracle of life" that any of these creatures survive without any watering or any human intervention.

kostas
 
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Kostas, Hoping all is well in Greece after the fires.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank you JD,

Hoping the same for CA and all over the world...as the man said "Peace on Earth"

It's a long, difficult road ahead, but we can create better forests than the pine monocultures that are getting burned.

If we are left with bare rocky sun baked earth surface...then we will really have a problem.

The drones that we manufacture,  can drop seeds or swords...our choice, our home.

Kostas

 
Jd Gonzalez
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Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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Γεια σου Κωστα!
May cooler and wetter weather head over your way.

I'm in Virginia and we are getting rain a plenty but we only have this "big blue marble" in which to live, taking care of it is the only option.

(I remind myself of this as the deer, squirrels, birds, and other creatures feasted on my juneberries, blueberries, apricot, and now are starting on my hazelnut bushes)

JD
 
Myron Platte
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Kostas, at that “difficult site”, you might want to try planting tree seeds right next to, and even in the grass clumps, or cutting the grass by hand every fall and putting in down under the trees as mulch. That should help create a better moisture condition in that desiccated landscape.
 
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