Designing Polycultures

Because polyculture, growing many plants together, instead of just one alone (monoculture), can reduce pests, disease, and weeds, conserve water, improve soil health and fertility, eliminate the need for tilling and reduce our dependence on chemicals, fossil fuels and poisonous biocides, polyculture is one of the most important elements of Permaculture. It can certainly be the key to a much easier way of gardening! And yet, because it’s an advanced kind of gardening that requires detailed plant knowledge, experience, observation and experimentation, it remains one of the most mysterious, and least discussed.  Time to de-mystify polyculture!  Because this type of … Continue reading Designing Polycultures

Mulberry Truncheon: does it work?

(Contorted Mulberry) A “truncheon,” which sounds like something Captain Caveman might have used to beat people over the head with, is actually an old-fashioned form of vegetative propagation or “cutting” that’s ocassionally useful for a variety of tree species including willow, hazel, certain dogwoods, and allegedly all species of Mulberry (which we would report is false.)  These cuttings, alternately called “live stakes” are large branch cuttings, about the size of an arm, or the perfect size to beat someone over the head with. (A coincidence?) The leaves are removed, and the stakes are buried or driven deeply into the ground.  … Continue reading Mulberry Truncheon: does it work?

Establishing a Food Forest Garden: Planting Density

(A view of one of our forest gardens with high density. Looks like a natural system!) What’s the correct density for a Food Forest Garden in the Great Lakes region? How close do you plant the trees? How should density change as the forest matures? We’ll look at a variety of perspectives on the topic and discuss how we can pick the right strategy for each garden and gardener to maximize productivity and minimize maintenance. First of all, there’s no wrong way to forest garden. We humans seem to have a built-in ability to garden this way. It is, after … Continue reading Establishing a Food Forest Garden: Planting Density