[permaculture] frozen trees and baby steps to permaculture

jedd jedd at progsoc.org
Tue Apr 24 21:14:35 EDT 2007

On Wednesday 25 April 2007 8:37 am, Kathy Evans wrote:
> Jedd, Thank you for the suggestions....seems like stuff I can actually
> start on. Can I grow fruit trees in clay soil in the understory of
> oak/hickory forest? 

 You can grow anything anywhere .. well, for varying values of
 anything and anywhere.

 If it's an old oak forest, you'll probably find the soil is fairly
 rich in humus, relatively acidic, and has been broken up to some
 extent by root activity.  In theory, about 25% of a tree's roots break
 down every year - though I think recent research has bumped that
 estimate down a tad.

 In any case ... if the forest is to stay, you may have troubles
 planting things under it, partly because of the acidity and mostly
 because of the competition for water, nutrients, and sunlight.

 I have no first hand experience with a clay soil .. only with clay
 pans about 1-2 metres deep beneath a sandy loam.  Clay has all
 kinds of interesting attributes.  A good book on soil is a handy
 resource -- check out Steve Solomon's excellent online library of
 reference books @ http://www.soilandhealth.org/

 In very general terms, you probably want to look at deep penetrating
 crops (comfrey, daikon radish, etc) & lime variants (maybe) to break
 up the clay, planting your trees on a raised mound of non-clay soil,
 introducing lots of organic matter into the soil (this is not as hard
 as it sounds - you provide the mulch, worms do the work), and if
 your rainfall is quite high you may want to look at diverting water
 away from the roots of new trees for a few years with some small
 amount of (manual) earthworks.

 As lbsaltzman suggests, selection of trees, or more specifically the
 rootstocks, is important too - increases chance of success for the
 plants and reduces your workload.  Take that a bit further - you
 can find plants that enjoy (or at the very least, tolerate) almost
 any environment -- got boggy acidic soil?  Try blueberries.  I think
 also cranberries, but check their requirements on acidity.

 Part of any design is finding things that match your environment,
 as well as managing your environment to suit the things you want
 to grow.  I don't know of any good resources (yet) where you can type
 in your climate and soil types, and get a listing of plants that would
 do well in your area.  A few years ago it would have made sense to
 wander the neighbourhood and look at what other people were having
 success with .. but, in my part of the world at least, this would now
 merely encourage you to plant buffalo lawn and agapanthus.

> only speak for myself but I wonder if that holds some people back from
> getting into it, because it's such a huge body of knowledge and a lot of
> what I see has to do with major design projects.book 

 Rosemary Morrow & Rob Allsop's book - 'Earth User's Guide to
 Permaculture' is a good one if you can find it in your part of the
 world.  I haven't read the [new] second edition, but the first had
 a running story of two sites, one small & one large, through it that
 clearly identified how transferable the theories and approaches are
 between different scaled projects.  I'm sure they've maintained that
 approach, given it was very effective.

 As to your annoyed trees - each spring in my area we typically get
 a late frost that mildly irritates my figs (but remember, figs are
 weeds) and confuses my mulberries (typically the last to burst,
 strangely) - and they always bounce back.  Some or all of the
 crop is lost, but the trees aren't.  Mind you, I was eating mulberries
 off my tree a few weeks ago - and it's mid-autumn in my part of the


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