Kc Simmons

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since Sep 26, 2019
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hugelkultur forest garden trees rabbit greening the desert homestead
Central Texas
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Recent posts by Kc Simmons

Could you hold off on chipping until after the berries are gone? I don't know anything about European buckthorn, so not sure if they are deciduous or flower/fruit all year, etc.
Some of the best chips I've gotten were from early spring, after the trees have come out of dormancy and are full of lush, green growth; but before they start blooming or fruiting heavily.
Last fall I got a bunch of elm chips that were full of berries and a ton of them came up in the gardens & flower beds in spring, so it's definitely something to be wary of. I've also had elm & oak chips that have sat and composted for 2-3 years before using them, and they still had viable berries and acorns that came up after I finally put them in the beds.
But- you're definitely on the right track with a good permie solution! I think it's just going to be one of those things where you have to get the timing right. 🙂

2 days ago

Jason Walter wrote:I want everything to be perfect but the reality is Im gonna have unhappy trees, some may even die, I should not let that discourage me in any way.

One thing about gardening (especially with trees) is that things die all the time. An oak, pecan, peach tree, etc., will produce thousands of seeds in it's lifetime with the hope of having one or two sprout & survive long enough to reproduce. And, since permaculture is based on observing & emulating Mother Nature, those who practice it tend to lose their fair share of plants/shrubs/trees.

There is prob no ideal way to do any of this unless I had a Walt Disney budget ( which I dont ) so Im just gonna keep planting my trees/hope for the best and deal with the issues hopefully appropriately.

One tip I can offer is to start looking for more cost effective methods of obtaining trees/shrubs. Propagating seeds & cuttings is a good way to get a lot of stuff to work with at a low price. Last autumn I picked up a bunch of half-rotted persimmons off the ground and got a couple dozen trees from the seeds. Some folks down the road have a pair of pear trees by the ditch that are always totally neglected but never fail to be covered with pears each year, so I'm planning to stop by and ask if I can pick up a few of the spoiled pears from the ground to try and germinate. Grocery store fruit is another way to get seeds and, while the variety may not be suitable for your climate, it doesn't cost anything to try if you eat the fruit. Some things take well to being rooted as cuttings. Several of my citrus trees came from broken stems I picked up from the home depot parking lot one time.
Grafting is another way to get trees for less $, but it is not something I've tried yet, so can't offer much advice on that.
So try not to get discouraged and look outside the route of buying full-priced trees from nurseries or garden centers.
4 days ago
I have them growing in my forest garden, as well as in random places on the property. The berries are edible, but they don't really have any flavor (to me). Most people I've seen use them made jelly from the berries (with lots of sugar).
If you want to transplant, I would do it during the dormant period. They can also be propagated by cuttings. I trimmed a bush back last winter and just stuck the branches in a bucket of soil. They ended up leafing out in spring and are now covered in ripening berries.
I suspect you can root softwood cuttings during the growing season, but I haven't tried because I don't really have a use for any more of the shrubs.
4 days ago
I am an amateur rose breeder, and often do a lot of crosses in my mom's rose garden. In order to keep her from deadheading the hips from my pollination, I bought a roll of the florescent plastic ribbon that's used for marking trees and flagging things. I just loop a small piece around the stem of the flowers I want to save the hips from and she (usually) sees it and doesn't deadhead that flower. I suspect that bright yarn or string might have the same effect.
5 days ago

Lauren Ritz wrote:I have goji berry in the area, but I was going to tear it out. Would a piece of chain link around the root area keep them from destroying it? The thing seems pretty much immortal.

I usually just wrap some scrap chicken wire around the things I want to protect and it seems to work as long as there's other, more tempting things for them to eat. So chain link would probably be fine.  
My goji berry shrubs are pretty tough, as well, but my geese have taken out a couple of them in the past. Fortunately they're easy to root from cuttings. I prune them back in late winter and root some of the stems as potential backups.
While they aren't the highest yielding fruit/berry bush, they seem to make multiple batches of fruit during the growing season, which can give you a little consistency in forage material. I wouldn't tear them out unless I had something better to occupy the space.

5 days ago

Mike Barkley wrote:Mine have done well again this year. Never had an insect problem with okra. They are in rather poor soil along with black eyed peas. I guess it could be called a Clemson Spineless & TX Hill Country Red landrace. Both grew together for the past 5 years but haven't really noticed any cross pollination. They still seem distinct. We didn't get any rain for a month or more & they were too hard & stringy to eat then. I grow it mostly for making gumbo but we also freeze some & eat it breaded with corn meal then fried. It's still going strong but will probably slow down soon.

I hope to start a little landrace with the okra, but that polar vortex last Sept messed up my seed saving so I did a few, each, of clemson, burgundy, and go big. We didn't get any rain in CenTex for most of June and July (one or two days of light showers), so my pods were a bit stringy, also. The burgundy and go big are blooming again after the cool front, last week, and clemson has some new leaves, so hopefully I can get a few pods from each to save seeds for next year.

ETA a photo of my sad okra. Most of the tops have been stripped but the rain/cool front has caused some new growth from the base.
5 days ago
I'm definitely not any kind of expert, but here's some feedback based on my experience and personal quest for knowledge....

Jason Walter wrote:
We all plant in a substrate that could be improved so how do you improve that?
My scenario is that I have at this point, dug a hole, done a 50/50 soil amendment with pine bark in the sand that I have for earth, placed my trees slightly above the soil line, made a ring of more mulch and then top dressed with a cow manure.

I try to constantly build the soil, and typically don't amend the planting hole. I generally backfill the hole with the soil (or dirt) that came out of it and top-dress with compost or rabbit manure, along with some mulch.

I dont want to wait 3-4 years only to find out that the tree isnt happy, its never gonna fruit or the fruit is substandard so what can I do to give a better chance that Ill have some decent fruit and lot of it?

It's going to vary, depending on the type of tree, variety, and it's preferred growing conditions. Generally, if you provide the optimal & preferred conditions for the type of tree it'll be productive. While soil is important, one also has to consider things like sun, temps, humidity, etc. For instance, peach trees tend to be productive in my climate, while cherries aren't usually as productive. Furthermore, I can grow 'Anna' apples but, if I tried to grow a 'Fugi,' it likely wouldn't do well. So growing something appropriate for the environment is probably one of the biggest factors, or creating an environment where the tree you want to grow can thrive.

Some of you are gonna possibly say have the soil tested.....ok then what? My understanding is fert in a bag ( such as 10-10-10 ) isnt suggested. How do I correct the soil?

Soil building and conditioning should be a constant process, with the goal of developing a strong soil microbial system. Soil tests are great for giving you a snapshot of the current status of the soil, which goes far beyond the NPK status. A test will reveal the pH, % organic matter, CEC, and trace minerals (Mg, Ca, Na, Zn, Fe, etc). I try to get my soil tested every January to see how it's changed over the previous year, but I'm still learning which specific amendments can be used to correct which deficiencies, so I usually just focus on adding organic matter and building a balanced soil life. Going back to my input about the preferred growing conditions (above); I know my soil is naturally alkaline (pH around 8 ), so I don't waste my time and space trying to grow things, like blueberry bushes, which thrive in more acidic conditions. I've tried to grow them in the past by trying to change the pH by adding to the soil, but they just kind of sat there until I gave up on it, with maybe a yield of 4-5 berries in 2 years. Had I not gotten the soil tested I might have continued to waste that time and space trying to get a decent yield, instead of replacing them with goji berries, which have thrived in that space.

How often should I be correcting the soil, ect ect

Try to look at it more as "building," instead of "correcting." For me it's a constant process, steadily amending a little bit, instead of shocking the system with a sudden, big amendment. Soil will also build over time as the trees and plants are growing and establishing the relationships with the soil microbial life.

Im gonna guess that alot of you are like me, Ive planted many fruit trees on my property here is Brandon FL and never done a thing, just hoped for the best and sometimes Im happy and others not so much.....I have another piece of land Im developing that dosent have brown dirt, I think Im gonna have to do a little more than nothing if I expect to have any gains and Id like to better understand the eco friendly way of doing it.

You are definitely in the right place! When I first joined the site I spent a lot of time reading through the entire forums of the topics I wanted to learn more about, like soil, plants, trees, etc. With the new piece of land you're developing, I would probably get a soil test, just so you know what you're starting with. But, also, you can start adding organic matter to the surface and getting a good system of soil life going. Being in FL, I assume you have high temps/humidity through the year, meaning the organic matter should break down fairly quickly and need more added to feed the soil.
5 days ago
I'm also in Texas, 8a, and have all of these growing in my fields

First is definitely wild morning glory... I fight with it every year because it has tried to consume my greenhouse and other structures (and drops thousands of seeds each fall).
I always thought the second one was lambsquarters. Glad to learn that isn't the case.
The sapling (third) appears to be a young cedar elm. The wood chips I used on the garden last fall was full of cedar elm berries, so I've been chopping them out of the garden all spring and summer.
The common name for the last one is straggler daisy. It makes a pretty dense ground cover in the fall. I believe I've seen my geese munch on it, but they'll eat almost anything, so I can't say it's not toxic.
5 days ago
I agree with observation being one of the most important steps to getting started; even if it feels like you aren't actually accomplishing anything. After I began observing and noting the important things, I began to feel more confident in the permaculture design features I put in place. It's also saved time, in the long run, since I typically don't have to go back and make any big modifications due to an unforeseen drawback in the other seasons.
I also like the idea of starting close to home, then working outward. Kitchen gardens are a good first project (after observing the water flow/source and sunlight during each season). By having it close to home you are more likely to work on/in it than you would be if it was a 15 minute walk across the pasture.
Lastly, I would recommend starting and finishing the bigger projects before jumping in to more projects. I have a bad habit of getting multiple things going at once then, either, not getting anything totally done, doing them just enough to be functional, yet having to go back later and fix/improve things.
Best of luck and looking forward to seeing your progress!
5 days ago
I agree with the earthworks being first, that way you don't have to work around any newly planted trees/shrubs.
But I also agree it's best to get the trees & plants in early since they can take a while to produce (so the earlier they're planted the earlier you'll get a harvest).
Having the poultry work for you is a great idea, and is something I plan to do, myself, over the winter. I had a huge pest problem this year, so I'm currently working on putting a little fence around the garden and plant to rotate the geese/ducks and the chickens during the daytime in hopes of the waterfowl taking care of weeds/seeds & slugs/snails, and the chickens digging through the mulch for overwintering insects & larvae. Since I have a decent population of frogs, toads, and small lizards in the garden I've been putting in rock and wood piles in hopes of giving them a safe place to overwinter from the birds. I also realize that I will need to figure out a good way to protect the younger trees and smaller shrubs from the poultry.
The only thing I haven't decided yet is if I want to put down the new layer of mulch first, or wait until the birds have had their way with everything first. I may try it both ways in different spots to see which works better. 😁

Please keep us posted on your progress! Sounds like you are getting a good plan in place and I'm excited to see how it goes!
1 week ago