Jan 9, 2008

Dave Jacke, Polyculture Study Group, Apples

I have never seen so much information and so many concepts in one place. There must be enough here for a BS and Masters degree. Last night we discussed the underground economy, the ecological niche, and the dynamics of succession.

We would be talking about one thing and be drawn to a whole other area in the process. Everything is interwoven. We talked of creating biomass in sandy soil, the biology needed to do that and the succession of plants that would travel through that biome over a period of years as the forest builds and the niches are modified. Direct sun light changes to dappled sun and then to a canopy in some areas, causing the steward to phase in new plants and plan for the next.

Long term to us is maybe five years? How about forty?

Do standard trees, non-dwarf apple trees have a place where we can plan a guild for decades?
The dwarf lasts 15 years, the straight apple 100- 150. The life of a single well established tree bears mountains of fruit over decades needing little attention compared to a smaller dwarf that bears shorter years and requires more trees. Albeit dwarfs bring more variety and sweeter apples.

Is a dwarf forest or orchard an efficient polycuture or is it already limited by manipulated stock? Can grafting to an established tree produce the same apples as a dwarf?

Raccoons broke off branches on our cherry trees last summer. I bound therm up with twine and the limbs healed quickly. The graft is a fat area on the branch of a young tree. It will be interesting to see if it is strong and able to hold the fruit in years to come. It was also a quick lesson in grafting. I would like a tool that would cut the branch for grafting. We could cross graft branches of the varieties we have to each other.

Does pear graft to apple? I hear I can graft domestic cherry to wild cherry trees. Taking some orchard branches and grafting them onto zone five trees might expand our future resources with little effort.

Perhaps we shall see this summer.

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Permaculture and Polyculture Consulting and Design

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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.

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