Working on Forest Gardens and Food Forests

Basswood and I went to town yesterday and ordered some fruit trees, raspberries, kiwis, and strawberries, that we are to pick up and start planting today.  (This is in addition to the big tree order that we have to pick up next week.)  We are getting all these plants to put in our forest gardens or food forests that we have started.


Last fall, after we bought 40 more acres for our food forests, we went around to some old mining locations and collected about 2000 wild plumb pits, a couple pounds of acorns, several pounds of basswood seeds, apples from several different locations, and seeds from several other trees.  We even found an asparagus plant that had gone to seed and brought that home to collect the seeds.  (Basswood made this asparagus plant into a Christmas Tree for his little sister before he left for Central America for the winter.  See photos on December 23 blogs.


Last fall we planted the plumbs on our property line.  We are hoping they grow up into a wall of wild plumbs to limit the deer traffic.  The deer can enjoy one side of the wall and we the other.  We took seeds from several different apples and mixed them together.  We then planted them thickly in two fifteen foot rows.  We planted this nursery bed this way because we didn't think very many of them would come up.  Well...  we have about 100 1" tall apple trees that have come up so far.  It looks like the only places the seeds are not coming up are where the deer have trampled the bed.


We have a real problem with deer.  Every night they eat the new growth from the daylilies we transplanted from one of the old mining locations last fall.  Don't get me wrong, we are planting some of the trees in our food forests just for the deer, honey bees, and other animals.  But... we need the little trees and flowers to get established before the deer come in and eat them.  We are going to have to put a fence around our forest gardens until they get established.


We have a five foot fence around our main garden to help slow down the animals.  This works pretty well until after the first frost in the fall when the deer do not seem to notice that the fence is there anymore.  This arrangement is okay with us because we have harvested most of the garden by then.  They will dig through snow, and one and a half foot of leaves, to get to the carrots we leave in the garden for winter storage.  I do leave a big patch of turnips for the deer that I do not try so hard to hide.  (There is nothing like going to the garden when it is below zero and digging up crisp carrots.  I have always run out of carrots before they freeze.)


I am really excited about making our food forests this year, but did I mention that it is a lot of work.  I had nine days off from the hospital and, fortunately, it rained three days and gave me a break.  Then one day we had to change the gas tank on the old Ford 4X4 that we use.  (It took a whole day because Basswood and I didn't know what we were doing and we had to learn as we went.  My older son, who works as a welder at the local iron ore mine, had to come and burn off the last bolt that had rusted on... after I had broken the strap to get the gas tank out of the way.)  The old Ford only has a little over 190,000 miles on it and runs like a tank, or that is how we treat it anyway.  So, we figure it is worth fixing.  Besides, did I mention that my neighbor likes Ford pickups and has been collecting them and selling parts for years?  We just went to a shelf, pulled a replacement tank and strap, and put them on our old Ford.  Fortunately for us, we use a barter system with our neighbor so it really didn't cost us any money.


Anyway, to make a long story longer, I was so tired last night after clearing away brush where Basswood wants to plant trees today that I went to bed at 8:00 and slept for ten hours.  This weekend, while Basswood is planting, I will be sleeping after my 12-hour night shifts at the hospital.  If it is anything like last summer, I will sleep well for about four or five hours and then I will find myself lying there... thinking about how Basswood is out there... in the hot sun... working so hard without me...  Then I will have to get up and help him until it is time to take a shower for my next shift.
Learn more about inexpensive natural gardening methods and food forests on our gardening page.