Jun 15, 2014

Jun 9, 2014

Accolades for Integrated Forest Gardening


Integrated Forest Gardening makes the process of creating complex agro-ecosystems more understandable and achievable. It is a fine guide to designing forest garden and polycultural systems using Permaculture principles.”

--Martin Crawford, author of Creating a Forest Garden  



We stand at a new threshold. The history of food production has tended ever more narrowly towards monoculture, whereas a sustainable future can only be based on polyculture. But we're desperately short of knowledge on polycultures. While mainstream research still chases the chimera of fossil-fueled monoculture, a small band of visionaries is working to develop the knowledge we need to carry us forward to the future. Just such are the authors of this book and the wisdom it contains is part of that movement.

--Patrick Whitefield, permaculture teacher and author of The Earth Care Manual

 "Reading Integrated Forest Gardening was like taking a walk through a well-orchestrated whole systems design! As a plant enthusiast and systems thinker this book spoke my language. It is rare to find in one book such depth of user-friendly detail. It demystifies the mythical nature of the “Forest Garden’’ and brings its strategies to easy application. This book is a must for all plant lovers."

 --Jude Hobbs, Cascadia Permaculture
 


 "For the design work we do at Midwest Permaculture, when we need experienced advice on planting systems we turn to the three gentlemen who collaborated on this impressive work.  The book is thorough, accessible, and timely.  So wish we had this insightful compilation when we first started.  It’s a gem!"
         --Bill and Becky Wilson, Midwest Permaculture


Integrated Forest Gardening fills a major gap in the canon of permaculture books, giving us, at last, a detailed guide to guild and polyculture design. No longer is this subject mysterious and daunting; in this book we now have specific instructions for designing and installing multi-species plant groups. Chapter 7, which describes 15 guilds and their plant members, is a golden nugget worth the price of the book alone. This is an essential book for all food foresters and ecological designers.

—Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture
 


“This is an intimate insight into the world of plant guilds. The authors have taken the broad land based overview and zoom the reader into the micro detail of these plant polycultures. Details of root structure, seeding patterns, and relationships with the surrounding environment have been carefully observed and are well laid out in the plant guild lists. This book is an important contribution to every permaculture designer’s library and will appeal to all those wishing to grow sustainable polycultures whether broadscale or in the garden.”

        --Ben Law, author The Woodland Way and Roundwood Timber Framing
 


 "This rich feast of nature love by three experienced and working permaculture designers pushes into the hard task of creating recombinant ecosystems, a field where few have gone before. The authors expose the logic and lore of working guilds, the symbiotic plant assemblies of productive landscapes. Full of design insight to the needs and opportunities of both plants and the people who live with them, Integrated Forest Gardening offers a panopy of example guilds, work procedures, and luscious images to inspire and guide the perennial food gardener onto a path of ecological renewal.”

        —Peter Bane, author of The Permaculture Handbook and publisher of Permaculture Activist magazine



May 16, 2014

Amish Farmer Goes with Permaculture to build Integrated Rotational Grazing.

This farmer was intrigued by permaculture and was amazed at the benefits from transforming to an integrated Food Forest Grazing System. The minimal loss of open acreage returned increased forage crops, new livestock opportunities, and harvestable windbreak crops never before seen on the property. With the structure in place for the rotations, plant systems, and water collection; we now can make species selection appropriate to the site conditions. This way the structure is reproduced elsewhere, but the plants choices are adapted to the livestock, climate, and site conditions. More details soon.

Mar 28, 2014

Thermal Mass and Insulation, Local Conditions Dictate the Function


Notes from SouthWoods Advanced Permaculture Series

Thermal Mass and Insulation, Local Conditions Dictate the Function.

Building strategies in changing climates vary based on the biomic tendencies of the region.  Cold or Hot regions also have sub regions of precipitation, wind, and landforms. Speaking of cold climate strategies, principles and solutions still apply; its the various materials and conditions on site that dictate the implementation. In mountainous and higher latitudes, the cold can be relentless. Unlike a Desert, the daytime and nighttime temperatures (Diurnal Temperature Variations) may not fluctuate enough to use thermal mass to buffer the changes, such as with adobe or earth bag homes.  The continuous lower temperatures quickly transfer into the thermal mass, and in time, begin to absorb the heat within the structure.  Large log or stone homes, which keep cool in summer as the temperatures cool at night and rise during the day, lose their benefit in a cold climate. This relationship between structure and function needs serious consideration when planning a natural building. Should the thermal mass be inside? Such as with a rocket stove fireplace and insolation in the exterior walls. Or, should the thermal mass be on the outside to moderate the diurnal temperature differential of hot days and cold nights? There would seem to be hybrid combinations for every climate. How dense and how thick should the walls be in each situation? What is the strategy of isolation and mass density to achieve the best efficiency?

Insulation is used much more in colder climates to abate the infusion of extreme temperatures into a structure. Homes have thick walls and roofs filled with millions of airlocks cells that moderate the temperature change between the two sides. Double and triple pane glass is used in the windows to again add a barrier to temperature change between the solid materials. Air and gases are used between the panes of glass, much like a thermos bottle, which uses a vacuum chamber between the outer wall and inner container filled with hot liquid. Reducing the energy transfer on the edges increases the energy storage capacity of the space.

So we have two principles working in a cold climate. There is the thermal mass of the structure including the air or water within the structure and the degree of insulation, which buffers the temperature changes across the layers of the edge or surface.

While working in Haiti I found that the dense block buildings a cool place in the day, but frigid each night. As a result, I lay on top of my 0ºF Polarguard sleeping bag in the sweltering temps of the late evening and around 2 AM, when the cold woke me up, I crawled inside the warmed bag. Part of the solution might be integrating our own habits with the dynamics of the built environment, just as we do the natural environment. Inside our homes we can insulate ourselves with fingerless gloves, and a sweater, or stocking cap. This is much easier than another cord of firewood or gallons of fuel oil. Start with zone “0”. Cultural adaptation is much easier than mechanical constructs.

Organisms use respiration and change their insulation depending on conditions. The dynamic relationship between thermal mass and insulation is optimized when managed as needed (warm blooded), rather than being a static and passive system (cold blooded).  Low temperatures extract energy from sources of heat. Cold climate systems slow that heat energy loss and minimize calories used to replace it.

And another thing:
Phase Change Materials
Phase change materials (PCM) are special materials for increasing the heat storage capacity without adding extra weight to the structure. Here the phase change is used for energy storage. As the temperature increases, the material changes phase from solid to liquid and during the chemical process energy is absorbed. This way the room temperature will be lower. Later when the temperature decreases, the material changes phase from liquid to solid and dissipates the heat. This energy is expended and removed from the room through night-time warming of the air. Ventilation can be increased with a fan and the air blown directly on the phase change mass. The temperature of the PCM itself remains constant during the reactions.
For building applications, the phase change should take place near the comfort temperatures, between 18 and 25°C. The phase change point depends on the type of material applied. If this temperature is too low, the heat storage capacity is exhausted too early, if it is high, starts too late and the influence is small.
Microencapsulated PCM (e.g. paraffin) can be mixed to interior plaster, wallboard panels or aerated cement blocks and applied in the building without any special measures, just like conventional materials (Figure 63). Encapsulation is important, as the PCM must not be in direct contact with other materials to avoid damages due to the “melting” process. 30 mm plaster coating with 30 % PCM has a heat storage capacity equivalent to 180 mm concrete 

(http://www.new4old.eu/guidelines/D3_Part2_H2.html

Mar 20, 2014

Black Maple is the New Sugaring Maple. Got Brix?

Climate change is stressing Sugar Males trees in the upper Midwest. Drought tolerant Black Maple is the choice for future syruping operations. It is more drought tolerant, smaller, and just as sweet. As the prairie moves in from the south, Black Maples from Iowa can be integrated into Minnesota and upper latitudes to ensure a constant flow of product. Maple Syrup is supplied to the world from the Northern United States.

Maple syrup can be made from all maple species (sugar maple, black maple, red maple, silver maple and boxelder) but they are not created equally. Sugar and black maple sap has higher sugar concentrations, (2-3%), than silver maple (1.5-1.75%), and box elder (1%). Why does the type of maple species matter? The"Rule of 86" in sugar making states that at 1% sugar concentration you would needto collect and reduce, on average, 86 gallons of raw sap to make one gallon of finished syrup. At 2% sugar concentration you would only need to boil off 43 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Unless you want to spend days -instead of hours boiling the sap down into syrup, you should always aim to tap the sweetest trees.
From: MAPLE SYRUP PRODUCTION
Iowa State University
Forestry Extension
Prepared By: Jesse A. Randall
February 2010
Publication F-337A

Mar 15, 2014

Kefir by the half gallon.

Small batches are a lot of work. One 1/2 gallon batch works for me. Two for the week. Takes about 16 hours and just a few grains. So thick and Elderberry too. Great on granola.

Mar 4, 2014

A Legacy Landscape.

Transitioning long fallowed fields to woodland pasture, perennial crops, and orchards requires a multi-layered agro-ecosystem design.  After extensive site assessment accounting for climate, soil ecology, geology and existing ecological systems, we start by building low impact access to the functional spaces on the site and then develop water catchment systems for drought proofing.  

Client objectives and goals are integrated into a new agro-ecology with over yielding and  multi-seasonal harvests, This is  required to support the stewards of the land and the ecosystem that supports them.   Plant selection is based on using species most suited to the climate and soils. Many of the plants are chosen because they build soil structure, provide beneficial habitat, and fertility supporting the anchor plants which are harvested for human consumption. Nutrients and organic matter is cycled back into the soil to maintain and build soil life.  The landscape is now diverse and rich with habitat.  It is an integrated forest garden, complete with small livestock to collect and spread nutrients across the landscape. A legacy landscape.

Sustainable Revolution, Permaculture.... worldwide

PRI/USA is proud to announce the publication of Sustainable Revolution by Juliana Birnbaum and Louis Fox. In 2009 PRI/USA supported Birnbaum and Fox by becoming their fiscal agent as they collected funds for the production of their new book and began to travel the world searching for Permaculture in urban farms, eco-villages, and communities worldwide.   The 350 pages in 6 chapters of the book cover the tropical equatorial climates and forests of Brazil Colombia, Cuba, Kenya, Tanzania, Thailand, and the USA. The arid climates of Jordan, Israel, and India where Birnbuam and Fox find the people making change in their community. Articles throughout the book cover local finances, economics, land stewardship, governance, culture, education, and the locally established organizations promoting sustainable practices.

For established practitioners and people new to the ways of sustainable systems and indigenous traditions, Sustainable Revolution is a must read anthology of wisdom through intentional living.   - Dan Halsey, PRI/USA



Mar 3, 2014

MOSES conference a hit.

Sitting with Ryan Dale and friend at MOSES in Lacrosse. Design talks went well and we got many inquiries. People appreciated the professional presentation and graphics. Notice the Kombucha and Olla?

Feb 26, 2014

MOSES conference, Advanced Design Class, and Hoop Horrors

The Moses organic farming conference starts Thursday night in La Crosse Wisconsin. I am looking forward to spending the days on the exhibit floor talking to farmers and homesteaders. Everybody loves looking at the designs and talking about their property.

I was very fortunate to get a booth this year. Pictured is the quick booth I put together for the ACRES conference that was in Springfield Illinois last month.   The week after that I also spoke and exhibited at the Minnesota organic farming conference in St. Cloud.

As much as I enjoy teaching and speaking to groups, just standing and talking to people as they show interest is a great way to find out what is going on in the landscape.

 Last Sunday we finished the first of 2, 5 day Advanced Permaculture sessions at KAAP.  Everyone did very well and I think that a lot of the class are moving their skills forward. Now developing the drafting and accuracy with those designs on paper for well defined implementations. We all focused on one property nearby, a 3 acre residence with excellent topography and sunlight aspect. Each student develop their own design for the property, but they all seem to see the same patterns developing and followed the natural shapes to similar results.

While I was away, we had quite a huge snowstorm that started out with the rain and followed with high winds. One of the seams in the house plastic gave away. I clamped what I could back up to the pipes and cover the outside with foamcore board until I can work on it on the first warm day that comes.

I am very glad we reinforce the top of the group house with mesh. The snow was really heavy and pushing down. Next fall I think either we will take off the plastic for the winter or reinforce the sides with plastic snow fence to give the pressure off the walls. I am leaning towards covering everything up with tarps inside and rolling the plastic off the house for the winter. Especially winters like this that do not seem to end and continually apply sub 0ºF temperatures. Too much worrying with this kind of climate. Not much benefit in leaving the plastic on even for season extension past the first big freeze.

Dec 2, 2013

Lead in Garden Soils

(EPA)
Lead contaminated soil can pose a risk through direct ingestion, uptake in vegetable gardens, or tracking into homes.
• Uncontaminated soil contains lead concentrations less than 50 ppm but soil lead levels in many urban areas exceed 200 ppm. (AAP 1993)
• The EPA’s standard for lead in bare soil in play areas is 400 ppm by weight and 1200 ppm for non-play areas. This regulation applies tocleanup projects using federal funds.
The soil screening level (SSL) for lead represents a conservative estimate for a level that would be protective of public health in residential soils based on an analysis of the direct ingestion pathway for children. This value is for guidance only and is not enforceable.

Does this mean that lead is a problem in your garden soil? From the research you can see, parts of the plant to absorb lead and arsenic are different concentrations.  Arsenic and  lead are generally absorbed more into the leaves and less to the roots. An extremely small amount to the point of imperceptible is absorbed into the fruit and seed. Once the concentration of lead and arsenic is known in a garden soil, it can be approximated how much of that will be absorbed into the vegetables. The percentage of uptake of the elements into the plant is seen in the yellow column. Inhaled and ingested arsenic and lead are the most dangerous, but body weight plays an important role in the health affects.  This is why small children in their formative years are most likely to have serious health issues from lead. For the most part, field sanitation and clean harvest practices keep the soil particles from entering the food stream, while actual lead content in food is less of an issue.

Dec 1, 2013

1067 users from 71 countries.

In 2001 Paula Westmoreland started designing and developing the Natural Capital plant database with the intent of creating a "living knowledge tool" to assist people in creating polycultures, guild designs, and testing the results. The initial focus was on plants adaptable to colder climates.  To that end, the database contains the following information:
  • Plant Selections (Alphabetical listings of with linked data files)
  • Plant Searches by Niche (Tolerances, Behaviors, Ecological Functions, and Human Uses)
  • Natural Associates (Native Plant Communities and Natural Polycultures)
  • Cultivated Polycultures and Plant Guilds
As a "living knowledge tool", the database usefulness is driven by the quality and quantity of input from our plant researchers, designers, and contributing subscribers.

Who was on the Natural Capital Plant Database in November? 1067 users from 71 countries.

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, European country, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of Serbia, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, Venezuela.
 
The database is going strong and we are looking to add 6000 more plants form all climates by Spring, 2014.  Many of theses plants have not been identified for ecological services, but we will begin the task of adding these characteristics to thousands of plants so designers can place them in polycultures.

The programming, data collection, interns, data loggers, and researchers will cost thousands of dollars, but we are committed to make this database a world resource for ecological design. All is supported by memberships and partner investment. 

Thank you,

Dan Halsey

Nov 10, 2013

Integrated Forest Gardening

Online Catalog & Media Site
Print
The Complete Guide to Polycultures and Plant Guilds in Permaculture Systems
By Wayne Weiseman, Dan Halsey and Bryce Ruddock
Pub Date: August 2014

Permaculture is a movement that is coming into its own, and the concept of creating plant guilds in permaculture is at the forefront of every farmer’s and gardener’s practice. One of the essential practices of permaculture is to develop perennial agricultural systems that thrive over several decades without expensive and harmful inputs: perennial plant guilds, food forests, agroforestry, and mixed animal and woody species polycultures.
The massive degradation of conventional agriculture and the environmental havoc it creates has never been as all pervasive in terms of scale, so it has become a global necessity to further the understanding of a comprehensive design and planning system such as permaculture that works with nature, not against it. The guild concept often used is one of a “functional relationship” between plants—beneficial groupings of plants that share functions in order to bring health and stability to a plant regime and create an abundant yield for our utilization. In other words, it is the integration of species that creates a balanced, healthy, and thriving ecosystem. But it goes beyond integration. A guild is a metaphor for all walks of life, most importantly a group of people working together to craft works of balance, beauty, and utility.
This book is the first, and most comprehensive, guide about plant guilds ever written, and covers in detail both what guilds are and how to design and construct them, complete with extensive color photography and design illustrations. Included is information on:
• What we can observe about natural plant guilds in the wild and the importance of observation;
• Detailed research on the structure of plant guilds, and a portrait of an oak tree (a guild unto itself);
• Animal interactions with plant guilds;
• Steps to guild design, construction, and dynamics: from assessment to design to implementation;
• Fifteen detailed plant guilds, five each from the three authors based on their unique perspectives;
• Guild project management: budgets, implementation, management, and maintenance.
Readers of any scale will benefit from this book, from permaculture designers and professional growers, to backyard growers new to the concept of permaculture. Books on permaculture cover this topic, but never in enough depth to be replicable in a serious way. Finally, it’s here!

Read praise for this book

About the Author


Wayne Weiseman is certified by the Permaculture Institute of Australia and the Worldwide Permaculture Network as an instructor of the Permaculture Design Certificate Course. He is the director of Kinstone Academy of Applied Permaculture (KAAP) in Fountain City, Wisconsin, the Permaculture Project LLC, and the Permaculture Design-Build Collaborative LLC, full- service, international consulting and educational businesses promoting the ideas of eco-agriculture, renewable energy resources, and eco-construction methods. For many years he managed a land-based, self-reliant community project combining organic crop/food production, ecologically built shelters, renewable energy, and appropriate technologies.

Daniel Halsey is a certified permaculture designer and teacher for the Permaculture Research Institute. Certified by the Permaculture Research Institute, Dan travels nationally and internationally teaching permaculture and ecological design to permaculture design certification students, homesteaders, and landscape designers.
Dan and his wife Ginny manage self-sustaining forest gardens of fruiting trees, shrubs and nut crops at SouthWoods Forest Gardens, a permaculture design, demonstration, and educational site located on a twenty-five-acre wetland savannah in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

Bryce Ruddock is certified as an instructor of permaculture teaching by the Permaculture Institute USA and Cascadia Permaculture Institute since 2010. He authored the Plant Guilds e-book, a training manual used in classes by Midwest Permaculture. His interest in perennial polycultures began in 1980. Since 1984 Bryce and his partner, Debby, have been implementing permaculture-based polyculture designs at their sixth of an acre urban home site in southeastern Wisconsin, where they have transformed an average suburban yard into a thriving food and medicinals food forest.
BOOK DATA
ISBN: 9781603584975
Year Added to Catalog: 2014
Book Format: Paperback
Book Art: Full color photographs and design illustrations throughout
Dimensions: 8 x 10
Number of Pages: 416
Book Publisher: Chelsea Green
Pub Date: August 2014
Retail Price: US $45.00
Category: Gardening & Agriculture
Media Inquiries: Shay Totten 802.295.6300 x125
Events: Jenna Stewart 802.295.6300 x120
Review Copy Requests: Lettie Stratton

Oct 29, 2013

Permaculture Manager / Assistant Wanted

SouthWoods is looking for an experienced and educated individual with high energy, horticultural aspirations, and agrarian goals. The position entails managing the existing operations and assisting in developing additional site resources (small livestock, Chinese medicinals, and hoop house plants, etc.. The selected individual will also be instrumental in opening a wholesale/retail permaculture plant nursery, assisting in permaculture workshops, site assessments, design, and implementation. Some travel requiring a passport may be involved.

This is a residential arrangement with the manager/apprentice living on-site with private entrance, room and bath. A portion of the taxable compensation is traded for lodging and meals.

Weekly hours of work will range from 20-40 depending on seasonal circumstances. This position is part administrative and part farm labor with opportunities for additional wages at higher rates with experience. Compensation commensurate with experience. Minimum six month commitment.

Proficiency in all Microsoft Office programs required. GIS, CAD, and graphic design experience a plus. Permaculture design certification expected prior to or within six months of employment. Proficiency in horticultural principles, extensive gardening, or farming history required.

Other Shared Duties and Responsibilities:

Assist and initiate management practices in all aspects of the landscape.
Keep records and journal of all activities.
Research, discuss, and apply better management practices for livestock, plant propagation, forest stewardship, water catchments, nutrient cycling, crop harvesting and storage, and human uses from plant systems.
Care for the household, facilities, buildings, appliances, machinery, outbuildings, living quarters, classroom, and property in general.
Cook, clean, and apply sustainable practices in daily operations of the household in all aspects of personal life.
Support and develop nutrient cycling systems, build natural capital, and increase energy conservation.

Interviews will be conducted in October or until the position is filled.

See southwoodscenter.com for other information.

Interested individuals may send a cover letter with attached resume & 3 references to dhalsey@integra.net

Daniel Halsey

SouthWoods Forest Gardens
Southwoodscenter.com
Southwoodsforestgardens.blogspot.com
Permacultureplantdata.com
Spring Lake Township, Minnesota






Sep 2, 2013

Plums are in.

©HCS, Inc. 2013
The Mount Royal Plum here had a 4 year battle with brown rot. Never any good fruit and always losing to disease. Last year it was treated with Kombucha Scobies and Worm Tea, then pruned severely. This year we have a huge load of large plums and very little diseased fruit. The tree is doing very well.
 Pitting was fast on these as we ate some and froze the rest. The Toka plums, not shown, are yellow-red, much sweeter, but smaller and few. I will treat that tree the same this next year and see if we can increase production. They fall from the tree when ready to eat, but do not store well.

I think The Mount Royal; will be a good base for plum-elderberry jam.  All the work comes to these few weeks we have to process and store for winter. Hickory nuts coming soon too. Our only nut crop other than acorns.

Aug 16, 2013

Rice Bag Beds with Olla Irrigation

 The Partnership Garden at the School of Environmental Studies in Minnesota uses rice bags and Ollas for a closed system of grow irrigation. Side and top are allowed to dry out as the moisture is concentrated at the center where plant roots can regulate their own water use. The clay Olla pitchers are used to reduce water use by 50% and make water available directly at the root zone. Fewer weeds too.




Jul 29, 2013

Patio Polyculture Orchard Design

This is a design for a small backyard orchard on the East side of a house. The space was an annual garden bed for years and left fallow the last two years with composting wood chips.  It has partial shade on all sides with a small direct sun area in the middle. The space allows for four fruit trees and a few shrubs. Starting with a grid base map for measuring and notes. The scale is 1" = 4'.

Working to scale, it is important to diagram the planting space and the surrounding hardscapes in order to plan access and the correct plant sizes.

 First use a piece of simple quarter inch graph paper and a long tape measure. For a backyard space the 25 foot tape measure seems to work fine. Measure the hardscapes, sidewalks, steps and house area. Sketch and make notes of these measurements on the grid paper, being as accurate as possible.

Once you have your initial notes and graph paper measurements done, overlay a fresh sheet of 8 scale vellum paper onto your graph paper and trace the spaces using a drafting triangle, ruler, and circle template. This cleans up the design and gives you an opportunity to refine the spaces for more accuracy. Using 8 scale, 8 subsections per inch, helps in measuring the spaces. Being neat at this point pays off later with less visual noise and confusing lines.



Once the new base map is finished on a fresh piece of vellum paper, overlay the new base map with tracing paper (bum wad), taping both down to the table. Make small alignment marks on the corners of hardscapes so that you can easily line up the tracing paper and base map later.

 Now we can begin adding the plants.  Using 3 or 4 different sheets of tracing paper you can play with the different positions the plants might be in. First place the trees, in this case they are 8 to 10 feet across. Using the correct sized circle stencil, the are easily placed with a 4 H pencil. Secondly add the shrubs that are next to and under the trees. Next to and under the shrubs are perennials and groundcover plants. Using the different sheets of tracing paper, try a few different arrangements. This is a creative process at this point, so neatness does not count on tracing paper. Its about seeing the different positions of the plants and how they might fit.

 the yellow sheet at left is the final tracing paper with the plants. There is also arrows showing access into and through the orchard space. You can see the little benchmark +'s and L-shaped markings used to align the tracing paper with the base map.

 At this point you have a clean base map on a scale paper and a final choice of plant positions on one of the tracing paper practice sheets. Place the fresh base map on top of your final tracing paper plant design and redraw the plants using the correct stencil. Again, this is an opportunity to be more accurate with the position of the plants and make the design neat and easy to read.

 Once you have positioned the trees and shrubs, the perennials, and groundcover, you can start selecting the plant species for those spaces. Number the plant circles and make sure your plant lists coordinates with those numbers so you will know where to put your transplants later.
 This design has 2 swales that intersect next to the raised bed near the patio. They are the access routes through the garden and also collect water from the patio and surrounding landscape for soil storage. In the process of preparing the planting bed the swales moved slightly from the original design.  Swales are level ditches on contour for holding water so it can soak into the berms and underlying soil.





Baptisia Astaulis  is a nitrogen fixing perennial that is planted underneath the fruit trees. One is planted close to the trunk of the fruit tree when installed and another at the edge of the future canopy of the tree. This is to allow both plans to supply nitrogen to the tree at its different growth stages. The roots of the fruit tree will intermingle with the badge and fixing roots and gain nitrogen each season as the Baptisia dies back in the fall.
 Yarrow is a beneficial insect plant for the poly-culture. It is habitat and food for parasitic wasps and many types of bees. It adds groundcover and protects the soil.
 Aster is a fall blooming plant that will act as ground cover and habitat for most of the summer and then an alternative food source for bees, wasps, and beneficial insects.
 Artemisia is a delicate groundcover that will fill in spaces between the perennials.
 Honeyone  strawberries are located near the sidewalk for easy harvesting. The stolons will spread and cover back into the orchard area and also supply nectar to bees.  Alpine strawberries are also included for the same purpose, although they do not have stolons and will instead grow in sick bunches adding mulch to the soil at the end of each season.
 Echinacea, Cone flowers add additional  beneficial habitat and a  summer long nectar source.  They will spread throughout the orchard.
 Lupines also bloom mid-summer and carry through to the fall.  They are a nitrogen fixer for the soil, and organic material, and beneficial habitat for insects.
 The 4 trees for this design are a Snow Sweet Apple and 3 Evans Bali Cherry trees.  This is a new Apple for our property and although we have other cherry trees, the Bali cherry is said to be sweeter and slightly larger than the Northstar and Meteor cherries. These are the primary producers for this planting bed and for which most of the nitrogen fixers and dynamic accumulating plants are positioned.  they are the anchor plants of the design and the over story that will eventually shade much of the planting area.
 We have also added a summer crisp pear  to an area across the sidewalk next to the house. It is tall columnar shape will tower next to the low roof line and benefit from the water and climate protection.  This will be the center of the circular shaped planting bed to be surrounded by herbs and beneficial habitat.
 As a practice, we leave certain areas to grow naturally for most of the summer and allow the wildflowers or volunteer trees to emerge. In late July we mow back the grasses and more around the prairie plants and trees. This year we had Purple Coneflower and Black-Eyed Susan's appear. An especially large bed of Purple Coneflower emerged and will be left for later transplanting and seed collection.


 We are surrounded by wetlands and have a pond filled with cattails.  It is a great source for mulch. We use Scythe to cut the stands of cattails and bring them into the garden, laying them between the plants in small bundles. This time of year the cat tale Paul and can be harvested and so we cover their heads with large zip lock bags and shake off all the pollen into the bag. It is high-protein and has a yellow color, much like saffron.
 Ground cherries are native to our area and spread with rhizomes. They cover the soil and if not competing with grass will stay low to the ground. This species, Physalis Prunosa, is also a trap crop for Colorado potato beetles and can be used as a trap for that past early in the spring. Later in the fall the ground cherries have a nutty pineapple flavor and are used in chutney and sauces. The paper wrapping is much like tomatillo.
On a beautiful Saturday morning the Polyculture Design class from the University of Minnesota installed the garden. They were working on their own designs and and have this opportunity to experience the implementation phase of the design process. Students used the above finished design and plant list to place and install the plants. Many of the plants were transplanted from other areas of the property into the new forest garden space.
 Students Ben, Jennifer, and Aidan check the positioning of the trees and shrubs and placed white flags that were marked with the plant names and numbers. Some adjustments were made as usual to the final positioning.  Many beneficial perennial plants were left to be placed after the trees shrubs and major perennials were in their position. Potentially bare spots and wasted sunlight was filled with lupines, daisies, and chicory.
Erin filled out the flags with the appropriate names and numbers for positioning by the other students.  Once the plants are positioned the flags are pulled and used another time. Plant flags are left in the position if those plants are not available at time of installation.
We used old barn wood to stand on while installing the plants so we did not compact the soil.  Many times these boards are left in the garden for later access while the plants are becoming established.
 Asian uses and 8 scale ruler to measure the position of the plants so that they are in the correct location. 1 inch equals 4 feet in this design. Having the trees installed first helps give a visual check to the relative positions of the other plants.
 Jen cuts back the French Sorrel  after transplant. Most of the native transplants on the property are pulled with as much root as possible but then cut back to reduce evapotranspiration and transplant shock. This allows for the plant to save his energy for generating new roots while still having enough foliage for photosynthesis.

Ryan and Jenn break up the roots once the tree is removed from the pot.  This late in the season many of the plants were root bound and needed to be the tangled so that they would grow correctly in the new soil.

 Large sections of comfrey removed from the Southwest Orchard and transplanted into the new patio Orchard. The roots on these older comfrey were massive and entangled. One group such as this cold from the soil will produce dozens and dozens of transplants.
 Ben and Ryan pry out as much taproot is possible, trying to extract the root before it breaks deep in the soil.
 Aidan gently waters the new transplants in the berm. As each hole was dug for the transplant, it was filled with water and allowed to soak, then the plant was on potted, its roots unbound, and then placed in the hole with fresh topsoil and compost. Once again it is watered.
 Ryan and Christina spread cattails between the plants and in the swale.
 It gets a little harder to work as the plans are put in and gradually places the step are reduced to a minimum. The design takes shape and everybody steps back to assess the positions and the relationships of the plants.

 This small planting bed will soon become a fruitful orchards and we look forward to many years of production.


Permaculture and Polyculture Consulting and Design

Permaculture and Polyculture Consulting and Design
Getting to know your property, the plants you have and those you can grow, is a fulfilling endeavor. With most I am the steward of the land. I give them good soil biology and they do the rest. If I group them in cohesive plant communities, they respond with greater yields. If I encourage the micro-organisms (Fungus and bacteria) , the roots obsorb more nutrients making a pest and disease resistant plant. A stronger plant that gives us more organic food and takes less energy.

A Ten Acre Farm Transformed to an Edible Forest Garden

A Ten Acre Farm Transformed to an Edible Forest Garden
Self Renewing Fertility, Soil Building, Water Catchment, Tea Trail Swale, Erosion Control and Native American Medicinals