The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Osage-Orange hedge, part 2

I finally planted the first of the hedges I've been talking about all winter.  For this initial stage, I'm simply starting a solid mass of Osage-Orange, with plans to intersperse other hedge plants in gaps at a later date.  Osage-Orange was a no-brainer as the hedge base since this first hedge is in the floodplain (optimal Osage-Orange habitat, but likely to kill many other plants due to the waterlogged soil.)  The trees will be liberally decked with thorns and will form a prickly, impenetrable barrier that works well at keeping animals in.  In addition, the seeds are reputed to be edible to humans and beloved by squirrels, so maybe the eventual inhabitants of the forest pasture will get something to eat from the Osage-Orange.

Stratifying Osage-Orange fruits

Osage-orange seedsThe first step in the Osage-Orange process was a unique type of stratification.  I put the fresh Osage-Orange fruits in a sink in the shade and let them soak up the rain and snow all winter.  When I went to look at them Wednesday morning, the result was not appetizing, but the weather had done its job.  I was able to mash the fruits up easily with the trake, exposing the seeds to view. (The pulp is pretty stinky --- you might want to wear gloves for this step if you're following along at home.)

Planting Osage-Orange seeds

Next, I created a very basic mound where I wanted the hedge to go.  Internet sources suggest planting Osage-Orange seeds in a shallow trench, but I've learned my lesson with other trees --- nothing grows directly in the ground in damp spots on our farm.  I smeared the Osage-Orange goo liberally across the turned over sod, planting thickly so that the tree seedlings will be able to compete with the weed roots I was too lazy to remove from the soil.  I didn't cover the seeds, though maybe I should have?  If I see any squirrels at work, I'll head back down and cover them up.  For future reference, my sinkful of fruits created about two gallons of pulp, which in turn seeded about 35 feet of hedge.

Want to learn more about the ecology that our permaculture campaign is based on?  Check out my website about Appalachian ecology.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Neat! With my current morel fever I'd be considering some tulip trees and ash too... though I suppose they won't do you any good til they get big and form a nice mycelium network underground. :)
Comment by Eliza Thu Apr 1 08:35:46 2010
I wonder how long it takes for a structure like that to grow? You could try planting morel stem butts around the bases of your new trees, and I'll get they'd colonize the roots pretty fast!
Comment by anna Thu Apr 1 12:03:33 2010
What's the status of the hedge? We'd love some recent pictures
Comment by P E Norris Fri Jun 1 09:34:16 2012

PE Norris --- I haven't posted any more updates, because none of the seeds seem to have come up. Or maybe they came up and weeds killed them before they could grow big enough to take hold?

Knowing what I know now, I would have laid down a kill mulch around the area to ensure that wouldn't happen. Maybe I'll experiment again when a few more osage-oranges wash up in the creek....

Comment by anna Fri Jun 1 15:49:27 2012

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