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Steve Thorn

garden master
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since Nov 12, 2018
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Steve started his first "permaculture" garden when he was about 7 years old and has been addicted to growing things ever since! It was only about 20 square feet back then, and he didn't know much about gardening except what was on the back of the seed packet, but he knew he didn't want to use any fertilizer or pesticides, and wanted to grow everything as naturally as possible.
Years later, when he got some land of his own, he started planting a larger garden, berry bushes, and fruit trees, and also discovered permaculture and Permies! Permaculture has made growing things so much easier and enjoyable! He is passionate about growing things naturally using natural farming and permaculture methods to minimize work and maximize enjoyment!
He is also passionate about saving seed and creating new and locally adapted vegetable and own root fruit varieties to increase the natural growing vigor, flavor, and pest and disease resistance of the plants, to make them easier and more enjoyable to grow.
Creating a plant nursery selling these types of plants occupies most of his free time right now, and he is hoping to start selling these types of plants and seeds soon! He has learned so much from the Permies community and is excited to learn and share our experiences together!
Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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Recent posts by Steve Thorn

This video is part 2 of the food forest tour on 2/16/20

The blueberry bushes are in different phases of blooming! Some still just have flower buds, and on others the white flowers are starting to show. Sometimes the weight of ripening blueberries determines the shape of the blueberry bush. Some bushes are bushy, and some are tall and open at first.

I skipped the pomegranates in the first week's tour, so they make their grand debut. Rabbits love nibbling on pomegranates during the winter if they can get to them or if they are growing alone out in the open. Working one handed is challenging. My pomegranates are growing really close together right now, trying to decide if I want to move them or not.

I've got a growing mound with some peach seeds that I planted last summer. I probably need to put a fence around it to keep the critters from bothering it or pulling up the young peach trees when they hopefully sprout soon!
23 hours ago
Week 2!

This video is part 1 for 2/16/20.

The natural garden area's natural (weeds) cover crop seems to be getting thicker. I haven't planted anything in it yet for this year.

Last week during the tour I skipped over the grape vines (whoops! ), so I decided to start with them for this week's tour.

I have a few seedless grape vines planted that are just getting started producing a crop, and I'd like to add a lot more seeded grape varieties and grow out the seeds to breed new varieties of grapes! I also have two muscadine varieties growing. One variety has done amazing and produced tons of delicious grapes, and the other has produced barely any, and the grapes it's produced so far have just been so so.

Critters like grapes too. There were so many muscadines on that vine this Fall, if it was just one critter that ate them, they had to have one large stomach ache after eating all that.

I've cut down two of my grape vines that I didn't like how they tasted and hope to replace them with some better varieties soon!
2 days ago
This video is part 4 and the final video of the week's food forest tour for 2/9/20.

A plum from the  big box stores wasn't what it was supposed to be.

I don't think I'll use fruit protector bags in the future. The squirrels and birds still found a way to destroy the fruit.

I hope to eventually connect all of the ditches in the fruit tree mounds and create pools in between them to capture and hold extra water.

One of my older and larger apple trees was struggling with powdery mildew, so I cut it off about 4 feet from the ground, and I was going to harvest the wood to possibly use it to carve something. However I decided to give it one last chance, and when it started growing again, it grew almost 10 feet during the year and barely has any powdery mildew anymore.

Next to this apple tree is a black locust tree that I planted last year, and it grew over 5 feet its first year. Maybe it helped out the apple tree some. It sent out multiple good sized branches and seemed to like its location in a pretty wet area, but it also gets much drier during the Summer and Fall.

One of my plum trees fell over. It was a pretty big tree when I got it, and it never had a great root system. It was about 5 feet tall or taller when I got it. It seems like smaller trees have done a lot better for me and have got established a lot faster and have grown quicker and have been healthier overall.

One warm climate mulberry has a good amount of winter die back. Hopefully some of the larger branch will survive or will at least come back from the roots. Another mulberry grew a good amount and has some healthy buds about to sprout. The final mulberry is the one you may have seen in some of my other videos. It grew to over 10 feet during its first growing season!

An apple tree I purchased turned out to be a hawthorn I think, still trying to decide what to do with it.

Thanks for joining me during this first week of tours of my food forest! I can't wait for everything to be in bloom soon and really start growing! I'll see you for next week's videos!
3 days ago
Hey Leigh! Looking forward to the discussions this week!
3 days ago
Here's a list of a few things I'm trying and experimenting with. These are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

1) pulling the limbs down to or below horizontal supposedly encourages fruit bud formation

2) limiting high nitrogen mulch or nutrients since high nitrogen may encourage vigorous shoots instead of fruiting

3) creating nutrient rich and nutrient diverse soil needed for healthy fruit formation

4) planting in soil that is high in organic matter and also well draining which can maximize the health of the tree and help it grow quicker and healthier overall and as a result be of a size big enough to hold a good crop of fruit sooner

I have a one year old peach tree that grew to over 6 feet in its first year. I'm hoping it produces fruit next year by year 3, which should be pretty comparable to a purchased tree.

One advantage of a fruit tree from seed that gives them a little advantage over purchased transplanted trees, is that there is no root disturbance or transplant shock, so the tree can grow faster starting off, if it is in an ideal location.

Here's a link to a thread of weekly video updates of my food forest that will hopefully show weekly updates of my peach tree grown from seed and hopefully lots of new peach seedlings sprouting soon this year!

4 days ago
This video is part 3 of the weekly food forest tour for 2/9/20.

A young first year apple tree sent up two main vigorous shoots. I'll probably pull the smaller one down, closer to the horizontal to train it to be a side branch. By training the tree instead of pruning it, I hope to encourage the tree to take on a more natural shape of growth. If I pruned the tree, it would most likely send up a lot more vigorous shoots growing straight up to the sky. By training the tree, and keeping the branch and not cutting it off, the tree should regulate its growth back to a manageable natural growth this year, that should be a more open and spread out shape.

A tiny cherry tree is hanging in there. Maybe it will put on some good growth this year?

I have a few young, one year old plums and a lot of one year old apple trees that had different rates of growth this year. It's interesting how some of them have grown more than others.

I need to transplant a plum, that is right beside a pomegranate that is a few years old, to a new spot soon.

Eventually I would love to connect the ditches of my fruit tree mounds and create more seasonal pools to help capture and soak in more rainfall.

A large pear tree was the only fruit tree here when I purchased the property. I could tell it had never really been cared for and had lots of unruly growth. I tried to correct it and overpruned it a few years ago, when I thought it should be more well behaved, before I discovered permaculture. It replied with more waterspouts than I could have imagined. It also hardly produced any pears for the next few years and was more susceptible to fireblight than before it was pruned. I have left it to its wild ways recently, and it is finally starting to produce pears again and was a lot more resistant to fireblight this past year.
5 days ago

This video is part 2, continuing from the one above, and heads into the main section of my existing food forest.

I have some two established peach trees that had been pruned a few years ago using conventional pruning techniques. However, now I'm trying to encourage them into a more natural peach tree (or bush) shape.

I have a young unpruned peach tree that was planted about one year ago that really thrived this past year during its first growing season. It grew up from only about two feet tall to over six feet tall and sent out numerous side shoots that are almost that tall, and I love its naturally bushy shape. Unfortunately, I think a lot of the side branches are from the rootstock. I want to keep it's natural shape, but the rootstock branches weren't as healthy as the main variety. I'll probably remove these shoots as much as I don't want to. Decisions, decisions.

I have a young peach tree that came up by itself, probably planted by squirrels that took some peaches from the nearby larger peach trees. Wow, I've been amazed at the growth and healthiness of this young seedling. It grew to over six feet tall its first year from seed, and it was growing in a pretty wet area, not very ideal for a peach tree, but it exploded with growth nonetheless! Hopefully it will produce delicious peaches also, then it'll really be awesome! I didn't see any flower buds on it, so it might produce its first crop next year.

I've been creating the backbones of some fruit tree guilds for some of my fruit trees using blueberries. At first I planted the blueberries too far away from the trees, but I have recently transplanted them closer this winter, and I'm excited to see how they like their new home!

The fruit tree mounds are working perfectly so far, holding lots of water and letting it drain slowly into the soil near the drip line of the branches, while creating well draining soil closer to the tree. Here's a link to the first video of a few that show a general demonstration of how I make these.

Surprise red shouldered hawk encounter! He didn't sound too happy. I think I must have disturbed his afternoon nap or either scared away his lunch.

Sweet cherries are said to be really hard to grow here, but I love cherries, so I'm giving it a go anyways. My larger two cherry trees are doing well and might even produce a few cherries this year. They've struggled with a few minor disease issues, but have come through pretty well. I've found that ensuring that they get well drained, healthy organic rich soil has helped them fight off disease issues.

I have a lone paw paw tree right now. It had a partner that was planted about a year ago, but didn't end up making it. It's got a few flower buds this year, so maybe there's a hidden paw paw in the woods to pollinate it.

Two small serviceberries are doing ok and growing slowly in a pretty shady area, and I may transplant them soon to a spot with more sun to see if that gives them a boost!

Thanks for joining me in the food forest!
1 week ago
Welcome to my food forest!

I thought it would be beneficial for myself and hopefully for others also, to create a weekly video tour of my food forest, showing updates of what it is being planted, growing updates, harvesting, and what is going on each week.

I hope to upload a tour of the full food forest every week, broken up into a few parts released every day or every few days.

If you'd like to stay up to date with the latest videos, you can subscribe to my Youtube channel HERE by clicking the red subscribe button and click the bell to get email notifications for each new video! I'd love to have you join me for this journey!

To get a little background of my growing area, it currently covers about 1/3 of an acre. I'm trying to grow as many plants as I can in the available space that I have. At this time, about half of it consists of a natural garden and grape vine trellises that I hope to transition into food forests soon! Some of the fruit trees were planted a few years ago, but most of them are just one year old. I also hope to plant a lot more soon!

In this first video I give just a brief overview of my growing area and check on the blueberries growing along the edge of my property. They are blooming extra early this year, hopefully they'll survive!

It's definitely a work in progress! It by far isn't where I want it to be yet, but that'll be part of the journey, and one day I hope to have it close to how I imagine it. I don't have a whole lot of free time, so some weeks, I may not even have a chance to work in it at all. My goal is to create growing systems that will have no problem growing without human intervention for an extended period of time if necessary, and will eventually be set up to hopefully thrive all by themselves! I'll try to give an estimate each week of how long I've worked on it and what I've done.

Come join me on this wonderful journey of creating a healthy, natural, beautiful, abundant, and fun food forest! I'm excited to go on this journey together!

I'd love to hear your comments, or if these videos are helpful, or if you'd like them to continue! Share them with others if you like them!

See you in the food forest!

1 week ago
Young plants seem to be a favorite for deer, rabbits, and other nibbling animals. It can be so discouraging to spend a lot of time planting and observing a new plant, only to wake up one day and find it munched to pieces.

Currently I've mainly been using 4 foot metal fencing around younger plants and trees, to keep out mostly deer and rabbits, and have had really good success so far with this.

I'd love to transition though to using a natural fencing/hedge/deterrent for keeping out these critters if possible.

I've had some success with simply planting stuff thickly around them. It seems like the critters target plants that are out in the open by themselves, but if they are tucked in amongst other plants or trees, this greatly reduces the chances that they are browsed on.

I'm interested to see if having some thorny plant material jumbled up in a circle around the plants will help deter rabbits?

What are some natural methods that you've had success with or want to try to keep the nibblers off your prized young plants?!
1 week ago