FoodProduction101

Garden Tour July 2016

Follow along on a tour of my permaculture site. You'll see: swales, ponds, gardens, chickens, bees, and much more.

Recent Pictures of Our Permaculture Site

August 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog, Design, Permaculture

Everything grows so quickly here. I wanted to post a few pictures of what things look like at the moment to keep you guys up to date.
Swale and Wildflower Meadow

Swale and Wildflower Meadow

Fish Pond

Fish Pond

Timber forest

Young Timber forest

Pond, Mandala Garden, & Food FOrest

Pond, Mandala Garden, & Food FOrest

Wetland, Silt Pond, Fish Pond

Wetland, Silt Pond, Fish Pond

Wildflowers, Garden

Wildflowers, Garden

Zone 1 Garden

Zone 1 Garden

Zone 1 Garden

Zone 1 Garden

Hugel Sun TRaps

Hugel Sun TRaps

Victory Garden

Victory Garden

Wildlife Pond & Food Forest

Wildlife Pond & Food Forest

Food Forest

Food Forest

Hugelkultur

Hugelkultur

Food Forest

Food Forest

Timber Forest

Timber Forest

Wildflower Meadow

Wildflower Meadow

Garden Tour July 2015 Video

See my permaculture site July of 2015. Featured in the video: -Young Farm Forestry -Young Food Forestry -Zone 1 Gardens -Ponds -Swales -Top Bar Bee Hives -And Much More....

Fruit Tree Guild Video

See fruit tree guilds in zone's 1-3.

How to Build a Zone 1 & 2 Food Forest

Zone 1 & 2 Food Forestry Project

I’ve been planning a food forest project over the winter. My plan was to reduce the size of my annual garden, remove grass space, add diversity, and future habitat for ducks in the form of a zone 1 and 2 food forest. My plan was to have at least one nitrogen fixer per productive fruit tree, comfrey under fruit trees, and to use higher value and higher maintenance grafted fruit trees. I feel that it is appropriate to have some grafted fruit trees in zone 1 & 2 because maintenance is easier close in, and management is more intensive in this space. When you move out to zone 3 & 4 I feel grafted fruit trees are not appropriate as maintenance should be less here. My zone 3 & 4 food forests contain native non-grafted species that do not require much maintenance but also produce lower quality fruit. There are three main areas that I designed.

Area 1

My mandala garden has been annually cropped for a couple of seasons. I’ve decided to move my broad acre annuals out to a rotated chicken paddock in zone 2 and to some swales and ditches in zone 3. Plants like corn, squash, and potatoes can all be harvested in one shot, and they take up a lot of space. By doing this, my zone 1 garden is much too large, so I converted half of my garden to food forest. The plants are still young, so I will still be able to annually crop for a few years while the plants are growing. The mandala garden was planted with low growing shrubs, herbs, and small trees. I added wood chips as a groundcover. I did not want to have an upper canopy layer here, as there is more food forest area behind the mandala garden.

Zone 1 Food Forest Mandala Garden (Area 1 & 2)

 

Area 2

Behind the mandala garden, I have a row of cherries and apples with an understory of goumi, clover, comfrey, garlic, and chives. There is an area of grass, that I sheet mulched and added more diversity of trees, shrubs, vines, and herbs. Area 1 already had raspberries, blackberries, and goumi growing along the fence, but Area 2 had unplanted fencing, so I added maypop and goji berry to climb on the fence.

Area 3

This area upslope from my annual garden had a wide swath of grass in between a small food forest. I sheet mulched the grass, added additional food forest, but left a tractor laneway in clover and wildflowers as a buffer between the food forest and the annual garden. This area was sloped enough to use net and pan drainage to help irrigate the young trees.    

Zone 2 Food Forest (Area 3)

Plants Chosen

Large Trees

Peach

Apricot

Alder (N-fixer)

Small Trees

Shipova

Jujube

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood

Shrubs

High Bush Cranberry

Siberian Pea (N-fixer)

Seaberry (N-fixer)

Bayberry (N-fixer)

Sand Cherry

Gooseberry

Honey Berry

Vines

Grapes

Maypop

Goji Berry

Roots

Horseradish (Can be invasive, keep out of zone 1)

Comfrey

Groundcover/ Herbs

Clover (N-fixer)

Garlic

Cilantro

Chives

Sourcing Cardboard

The majority of my cardboard came from a nearby appliance store. I made approximately eight trips to the store over a four month period. Appliance stores are great because usually the boxes are very large and already broken down. I also got a few pieces from a nearby cardboard dumpster.

Yes, we pulled cardboard out of a dumpster.

Step by Step, How I Established the Food Forest with Sheet Mulching

1. Wet the ground if it is dry.

2. Apply coating of manure to feed the soil life.

3. Apply cardboard on a calm day.

4. Wet cardboard to help the soil life break it down.

Cardboard or Newspaper for Weed Suppression

5. Add 3-4 inches of compost.

6. Plant trees, shrubs, vines, and roots. (This was mostly done with bare root plant stock, which is cheaper than potted plants.)

7. Make trench connecting trees and shrubs to form net and pan drainage. (In my climate, I get 48 inches of rain per year, so this is unnecessary and maybe detrimental on flat ground, but this was on a slope.)

Net & Pan (Sorry for the poor picture. You can see where the straw got stuck in the ditches emanating from the tree ring ditch.)

8. Seed in herbs and groundcovers. (I inoculated the clover seed with the proper bacteria before planting it. This will ensure that it fixes nitrogen.)

9. Add light coating of straw over seed.

10. Mulch trees, shrubs, and vines.

11. Water.

Zone 1 & 2 Food Forest Video

Included in the video:

Sheet mulching
Sourcing cardboard
Inoculating clover seed
Covering seed with straw
Planting bare root trees
Nitrogen fixers
Grafted vs. Ungrafted
Appropriate trees for zones 1 & 2 versus 3 or 4
Net & Pan Drainage

Hugelkultur Project (Part 2 Planting the Polyculture Video)

October 31, 2014 by  
Filed under All Videos, Blog, Permaculture

Plants on the South or Sunny Side (Arranged from the top, which is dry to the bottom which is moist)

White Yarrow- Nutrient accumulator, pollinator attractor, insectary

Cilantro- Edible, Insectary, Pollinator Attractor

Beach Plum- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

Common Apple- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

European Plum- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

Golden Currant- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

Fennel- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible, Nutrient Accumulator

Roman Chamomile- Insectary, Tea

Parsley- Edible, Medicinal, Animal Forage

 

Plants on the North or Shady Side (Arranged from the top, which is dry to the bottom which is moist)

Chicory- Insectary, Pollinator Attractor, Edible, Nutrient Accumulator

Hazelnut- Edible, Animal Forage

Purple Coneflower- Insectary, Medicinal, Pollinator Attractor

Seaberry- N-fixer, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Medicinal, Edible

Serviceberry- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

Garlic- Nutrient Accumulator, Edible, Medicinal

Red Mulberry- Edible fruit, Bird Habitat & Forage, Dyes

Bartlett Pear- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

Wild Lupine- N-fixer, Edible, Insectary

How to Build & Plant Large Hugelkultur Beds

Hugelkultur is basically soil over wood. Hugel beds can be any size, use different sizes of stumps and branches, and different decomposition stages of the wood & different types of wood. There are allelopathic trees that you would not want to dominate your wood. It is OK to have a little black walnut, spruce, or hackberry but these alellopathic trees should not predominate. Also, if you use mostly pine, you will end up with more acidity in the soil. This is great if you plan to grow blueberries, foxglove, and rhododendrons, but it may be tough for the high value food crops that prefer a more balanced soil.

Hugelkultur Sun Traps

 

Benefits of Hugelkultur

-Little irrigation is needed after saturation as the wood holds a tremendous amount of moisture.

 

-No fertilizer is needed as the wood releases nutrients slowly as it decomposes.

 

-The benefits of tilling are realized as the wood decomposition creates air pockets, but without the soil destruction and work of tilling.

 

-Lots of beneficial fungal activity

 

-Depending on the height of the beds, harvesting can be easier as you do not need to bend over quite as much.

 

-Lots of microclimates are created by the raised hugel beds. For example, your plants that require shade can be planted on the north side, while the sun plants can be planted on the south and west sides. Also, plants preferring drier conditions can be planted toward the top, and plants preferring wet conditions towards the bottom.

 

Plants that do Especially Well in Hugel Beds

You can plant just about anything in your hugel beds and they will do well, but there are certain plants that tend to do very well in a hugel bed. Over the years, I have grown perennials and annuals in my zone 1 hugelkultur beds. I have found that just about anything that I can get growing in the beds grow better than other areas of my garden. The only drawback is it is harder to get germination on the sloped sides, than my flat garden. Also, at the very top of the hugelkultur beds, it gets a bit dry for most things. This past season, the best eggplant and peppers I had were growing in hugel beds. Below are some plants that do especially well.

-Potatoes (Regular and Sweet)

-Cucurbit Family (Cucumbers, squash, watermelon, zucchini etc…)

-Strawberries

-Raspberries

-Blackberries

-Most perennial fruit (I think woody perennials like the wood and fungal relationships)

 

How to Construct Large Hugelkultur Beds

1. Decide on the size you require. Remember the hugel beds will shrink down by 25% over the first year or so. I think 4-5 feet tall is a good size. The width at the bottom will be at least 2 to 3 times wider than the height depending on how steep you build the sides.

 

2. Decide on a location. Make sure the area gets sufficient light for the plants you wish to cultivate. Be wary of water flows, as you do not want to divert surface water with your berms to areas that may cause damage to property. Also, if you are on a very steep slope you may not want to build your berms on contour, as the water can collect and cause a mudslide.

 

3. Figure out where you are going to get your wood, and what type it is. Certain woods are allelopathic such as black walnut or don’t break down very well such as black locust. Other woods such as conifers are acidic. Allelopathic wood should be avoided as it will be toxic to other plants. Conifers can be used, but it would be a good idea to plant acid loving plants such as blueberries in that part of the hugel bed. A little of these types of woods is not a problem if mixed.

 

4. Be certain on the location and shape of the beds, as they will not be easily moved. Straight beds are boring, try curved beds for aesthetic purposes as well as the many microclimates it will create. I placed mine out on contour, as this will collect more water and matches my swales nicely. Also, the slope is not steep enough to be concerned about mudslides. Mark this out. Be careful not to use too much wood. I think no more than 35% of your hugel beds should be wood.

 

Hugelkultur in Progress

5. Lay out your wood directly on the ground, or dig the area out putting the soil aside to be applied on top of the wood. I prefer laying the wood directly on the ground as it is much less labor intensive. It does require bringing in more soil though. Sepp Holzer typically uses an excavator, so he will remove the sod, dig out the area, and then place the wood in the trench. After that he places the turned over sod on top of the wood, then sub soil, then the topsoil, and finally compost. He likes to build his beds very high and very steep, so sometimes he takes brush and then leafy branches and spikes it into the side to act as erosion control and cover for his seeds.

 

6. Add fill, leaves, turned over sod, or any other organic material.

 

7. Add subsoil, then topsoil.

 

Hugelkultur Berms Awaiting Compost

8. Add a good layer of compost, 3-6 inches.   

 

Hugel Beds on Contour with Compost Added

9. Plant immediately. If you are not ready to plant your hugel beds yet, at the very least install an annual cover crop to hold the soil. You can use an annual pea or bean to help to build the fertility in the soil. I planted a variety of perennials and a few self-seeding annual herbs and fruits. I have seen video footage of permaculture people throwing out seed mixes on hugel berms. I decided to take the extra time to plant my polyculture based on the plants desire for varying degrees of sun, shade, moist, and dry conditions. I also planted the seed one variety at a time, so I could get the proper planting depth required for each plant. In this situation, where I am planting high value fruits and herbs it was worth taking the extra time to plant to ensure the best germination. I also made small terraces by hand when I was planting my very high value perennial fruit seed.

 

Plants on the South or Sunny Side (Arranged from the top, which is dry to the bottom which is moist)

White Yarrow- Nutrient accumulator, pollinator attractor, insectary

Cilantro- Edible, Insectary, Pollinator Attractor

Beach Plum- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

Common Apple- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

European Plum- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

Golden Currant- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

Fennel- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible, Nutrient Accumulator

Roman Chamomile- Insectary, Tea

Parsley- Edible, Medicinal, Animal Forage

 

Plants on the North or Shady Side (Arranged from the top, which is dry to the bottom which is moist)

Chicory- Insectary, Pollinator Attractor, Edible, Nutrient Accumulator

Hazelnut- Edible, Animal Forage

Purple Coneflower- Insectary, Medicinal, Pollinator Attractor

Seaberry- N-fixer, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Medicinal, Edible

Serviceberry- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

Garlic- Nutrient Accumulator, Edible, Medicinal

Red Mulberry- Edible fruit, Bird Habitat & Forage, Dyes

Bartlett Pear- Insectary, Animal Forage/ Habitat, Edible

Wild Lupine- N-fixer, Edible, Insectary

 

10. Mulch over your seed. The problem with large hugelkultur berms is that it is difficult to hold the seeds in place on the steep sides and get germination. I used a biodegradable straw seed mat that I staked into place with sod spikes. The sod spikes were not necessary though as simple sticks shoved through the mat worked fine as well.

 

Hugels Planted & Mulched

11. If possible, it is a good idea to irrigate immediately to get the seed going to dominate the space with the plants you want, so others don’t take up residence. I am not irrigating yet as my fall seeding will lay dormant until spring.

Hugels Complete

See part 1 of my hugelkultur project which includes laying down the wood on contour, and adding the subsoil, and compost. I mention in the video that the wood is from tree tops, but that is incorrect, it is simply uncut firewood.

Part 2 Planting the Polyculture

Hugelkultur Project (Part 1 Building the Berms Video)

October 27, 2014 by  
Filed under All Videos, Blog, Permaculture

See part 1 of my hugelkultur project which includes laying down the wood on contour, and adding the subsoil, and compost. I mention in the video that the wood is from tree tops, but that is incorrect, it is simply uncut firewood.

A Quick Way to Find Slope with a Laser Level Video

October 8, 2014 by  
Filed under All Videos, Blog, Permaculture

See an easy efficient way to find slope with a laser level.

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