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

Techniques for designing a holistic orchard

Hugelkultur terraceThe second chapter of The Holistic Orchard was all about planning an innovative orchard that suits your site.  I wish I'd read this before I drowned some trees in our soggy soil, then reinvented the wheel to create raised planting beds incorporating hugelkultur just like Phillips suggests.  His notes on sun and wind are probably just what some other beginning orchardist needs as well.

A method Phillips calls "biological terracing" looks like it would be just right for our steep and dry powerline cut pasture.  Soil is shoveled downhill to create a terrace with a bowl Biological terracingbehind it, and the bowl is filled with wood chips to soak up moisture.  I've pondered terracing our powerline hillside (or at least building small cepas for trees), but have gotten bogged down in deciding what will hold the steep downhill side of the terrace from being scratched apart by chickens.  Phillips' suggestion of planting comfrey to hold the slope sounds like it might withstand moderate abuse.  (The two photos I've included are other ideas for terracing --- click each to see the source.)

Next, Phillips introduces forest gardening, dynamic accumulators, and nectary plants that attract beneficial insects.  I won't write more about that here since I've posted about each topic in depth in the past.  I was a bit disappointed that the author seemed to be regurgitating a lot of forest gardening information from the literature rather than telling us which techniques actually work in his orchard, but that's my pet peeve about permaculture books in general.

Weekend HomesteaderDid any techniques pop out at you from this week's reading?  Or do you have a site-specific problem Phillips didn't cover that you're wondering how to work around?

We'll read chapter three for next Wednesday.  I know it's a lot of pages, but the first and last parts cover information you probably already know if you've delved into orcharding at all, so feel free to skip or skim that and just focus on the "soil fertility" and "tree doings" sections on pages 59 through 82.  I hope you'll keep reading along (and that newcomers will feel free to join the club!  We'll probably focus on this book all through October and November, so you've got plenty of time to hunt down a copy.)

The Weekend Homesteader is full of projects that make a difference, but don't break the bank.

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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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This blog is getting expensive!
I started by getting one of the Weekend Homesteader ebooks from amazon- a real steal! But that prompted me to get another, and another...I think I have them all now, but I decided the info was so valuable that a hard copy was in order. And then , you are introducing books and ideas that lead to more books.... I've ordered chicken books, permaculture books...I have the Holistic Orchard on my wish well as a scythe, and a better garden cart! I believe I am going to have to add a "walden effect" line item on the budget next year! :-)

Comment by Deb Thu Oct 11 00:20:28 2012
Deb --- I know you're kidding, but I'm actually sorry about that! I try to steer clear of product recommendations and to send folks to the library whenever possible. But there are some books that just need to be on my shelf, and this is one of them. :-)
Comment by anna Thu Oct 11 07:15:31 2012

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