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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Recommendations for fruit trees and shrubs?

Recommendations for fruit trees and shrubs?

David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 990
Tyler, I got the tool that makes an omega cut. I found that putting the omega blade in requires serious disassembly. I hope it works well. I have blueberries to graft and rootstock apples out in my woods and elsewhere. I have a tree on the front corner that's probably over 100 years old that I'm thinking of using. I have a 5 in 1 apple tree I could use too. My neighbor down the road has an apple tree with 22 varieties.

Blueberries are my main interest. Getting those cultivars was my first big mistake. I want to give them wild branches. Dave Handley at Highmoor farm tells me no one is doing this. He says it's doable though. My town is loaded with wild highbush. I may be able to get a few cuttings around town. Many of these bushes are very old. Dave says they can live to be 150 yrs old. I have one on my property that is 12-15 ft. tall and 15 feet wide. I know it has been there a really long time.
maggie
user 6798860
Lee, NH
Post #: 52
Thank you all so much for your suggestions. Tyler- I would love any help you'd like to give! I'm new to the design process so any insights are appreciated. Let me know if you're going to be in the area anytime and maybe we can go take a look at the sight together. I think it has a lot of potential. In the meantime keep the plant suggestions coming if you think of any more. Thanks again!
Jesse S.
user 29709632
Harrison, ME
Post #: 118
Any further descriptions of your site(topographic, climatic, soil, and social ecology) would also be helpful in determining what might do well there, as well as how much overall space you have to work with. Are there adjacent areas where you can observe what self-selected plants are successful and thriving?- this could provide hints of what might do well in a selected planting.
David brings up an interesting point and it's something I've been trying reckon with as well- marginalization and under-appreciation of many of our natives. My own orchard space consists largely of cultivars(mostly apple and pear), with a few seedlings interplanted as well as guild plants like n-fixers, insectary and dynamic accumulators. All planted in rows, which has made alley-cropping and pasturing livestock more feasible.
Down one side of the orchard, and along our roadway there's a hedgerow-in-progress(about 40' x 250') that I'm letting go somewhat fallow and planting with natives and wildlife-friendly plants. No rows in this hedgerow! I hope to provide some habitat for critters, bit of privacy from traffic, and get some medicinals and nibbles for myself. Some of what I've planted in the hedgerow includes cedar, willow, alder, elder, hazels, dogwoods, witchhazel, persimmon, butternut, crabapple, chokecherry, blackberry, raspberry, locusts, chestnut.
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 991
Jesse,

I see nothing wrong with fruit trees. They exist in mostly managed spaces and are not in danger of becoming invasive. Some things need to be farmed.

I try to do as many things free or cheap as possible. The word "purchase" makes me think that things may be on the wrong track. You do have to buy things and create infrastructure though. I believe the greenhouse/plant trade is often the enemy. Be careful how you consort with them. Bad things can happen when your brain says "wouldn't it be neat" to do this or that. The greenhouse can present many bad choices. They can transmit disease. They do have a long track record. You sometimes need to go there but don't get too sucked in.

So what's unassailable about native/landrace plants, trees, bushes, etc? They have co-evolved with the plants, trees, bugs, fungi, bacteria, diseases, ph, etc. etc. They did not need your help to grow. They can exist in marginal and highly competitive areas. They get by and often thrive without your added soil inputs. They are by far the most genetically diverse and therefore most survivable over the long term (lifetimes). Often with cultivars the "selections" made are bad choices (Oh dang, those viburnums do get under my skin). Some are just plain mistakes. Cultivars co-evolved with people, greenhouses, clippers, and a lot of babying. Think of how many of the things you buy (like blueberries) are clones. Clones add up to dramatically lower genetic diversity and significant danger to long term survival. We keep pushing plants through genetic bottlenecks as if nothing bad will happen. Read the story of rice sometime.

In the case of my blueberries when given a good sunny spot and some space to grow the wild bushes grow better than the cultivars, produce as much or more fruit, and taste dramatically better. They require very little maintenance. The taste challenge is still on. Bring your very best cultivar and see if you can win the taste challenge. (OK, fair enough, no one comes because they can't win). The same story is true for blackberries. The wild ones in good spaces outperform the cultivars in every way. I find wild bushes around here where the berries have more than 10 rows of drupes so fruit size is not a problem. They are aggressive though.

I bought cultivar elderberry. It died. The wild ones do well. I got sucked in to buying thornless blackberries and other. Ugh! Come see the comparison with wild where they grow right next to each other. It's laughable. Some things shouldn't grow here and some just don't do well. Paw paws? Failed to thrive and died. Every time you plant that cultivar, it takes the space where a native could be. Plenty of wild hazelnut, witch hazel, serviceberry, elder, blackberries, raspberries, thimbleberries, viburnum, etc. etc. (short list) It's everywhere if you look. With most of it, like Ron Popeil says, "set it and forget it".

David Spahr
Greg M.
user 3541854
Acton, ME
Post #: 637
Dave,
Just one exception to what you're saying. Pawpaws for the most part are wild, there's very little breeding work here, just mostly selections of wild plants. And they also did co-evolve with much of the wildlife that lives here. If they failed to thrive and died perhaps your place is just too far out of their range or else they were planted in the wrong space? Mine are doing fine with no attention from me. They are still quite small, but they still survived a near mow down from some hungry deer and are springing back like champs.
Tyler O.
TylerOmand
Greenbush, ME
Post #: 52
Greg, where did your Paw Paws come from? I've got some seeds cold stratifying now from a friend who gathered them from a historic tree on a historic property in Connecticut (where exactly escapes me at this moment). I will germinate them early spring. I will probably try both starting early in deep containers (to accommodate the long taproot) in the greenhouse as well as direct seed in their final location because "Pawpaws are ordinarily quite difficult to transplant. They have fleshy, brittle roots with very few fine hairs. Experimentation has shown that, to be successful, transplantation should be done in the spring at the time that new growth commences, or soon after. (This is basically the same as for magnolia.) If many roots are lost, it may be desirable to prune the top to bring it into balance with the remaining roots. Grafted trees may bear fruit in as few as 3 years." -
http://www.pawpaw.kys...­
Funny, the planting guide goes on to say "Deer will not eat the leaves or twigs, but they will eat fruit that has dropped on the ground. Male deer occasionally damage trees by rubbing their antlers on them in winter." Must be the harsher winters here in Maine that drove your local deer to mow down your paw paws. Among other plants, Eric Toensmeier also features the paw paw and talks about how the leaves are toxic and used to make pesticides, in the (unfortunately short) video with Geoff Lawton at Eric and Jonathan's paradise lot in Holyoke, Mass. http://www.geofflawto...­
Greg M.
user 3541854
Acton, ME
Post #: 638
I watched that video. Their pawpaws are getting to be gorgeous trees, aren't they!

I got mine from One Green World. They got taken down to half height after putting on some nice growth their first year. Sometimes I think that deer have a strong sense of adventure and will try anything once. In this case they have not been touched again. Possibly it was something other than a deer, but looked like typical deer damage.

One Green World ships them in tree pots and there was no trouble with the transpant. So far no suckers popping up, but I'm keeping an eye out.
maggie
user 6798860
Lee, NH
Post #: 53
The sight is pretty small and I'd guess it's about 50 square feet at most. Very heavy clay soil but we have good composted manure from pastured cows down the road to amend it with sheetmulch and hugelkultur beds. The area gets partial sun, I'd guess about 5 or six hours in the summer but I'll have to observe it to know for certain. The garden is a ways out of town in a beautiful location where no one lives so the only time we have any "social ecology" is when gardeners come to work on their plots or for meetups etc. But town is nearby and I think there'd be a lot of interest in helping a project like this get established and stay maintained. Though, the one major issue that you've reminded me of is deer. We have fencing put up around our plots in season, but if possible I'd like to keep this one out in the open. Do you think that's crazy or possible? Once the fencing comes down in the fall there is almost never anyone there so the deer go wild and eat most of what's still growing, which means we'd probably have to only put in plants they won't eat. Are they likely to take down all young trees? Let me know what you think. It might make more sense to try to connect the new garden to the existing garden and just expand the fencing or for it to be a separate fenced in area but that's just not what I had envisioned. But hey- I'm not here to impose, just to compose. Thanks again for all your help. I gladly welcome any and all suggestions!
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