Permaculture Plantout at Factor e Farm

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Factor e Farm will become a world heritage site with 20 acres of permaculture plantings. We are planning a 15 acre orchard plantout, to add to the 3 acres of existing orchard. The permaculture plan involves tree plantings, followed by intercropping with other edibles, herbs, flowers, and a diversity of other plants, animals, fungi, and fish.

15 Acre Orchard Planting, 2009

We plan on obtaining seeds for rootstock (apple, pear, peach plum cherry etc) in October of 2008, and we will stratify them in November for 3 months. In September-October we will visit chestnut, hazelnut, and pecan sources for seed acquisition.

In early spring, 2009 - we will have to prepare soil, or buy soil. We can do CEB growing beds and pots in the greenhouse. We have to sterilize soil, and pots, if we use our own soil. We are considering a solar oven soil sterilizer, for obtaining better germination.

On March 1 we plan on seeding rootstock seeds in the greenhouse. We need to plant about 10000 seeds - which at 1/4 success rate plants out about 15 acres of orchard. This should take 2 days with 4-6 people to complete, if the soil and pots are already available.

From March 1 - June 1, we'll prepare the 15 acres with LifeTrac - holes prepped with composted manure and mulch, so that when we're ready to plant - we just go out with the seedling and bury it in about 1 minute of work per plant. That assumes that the soil is well-prepared, which we will work on in the March 1-June 1 period. With 1 plant per minute, it will take 4 people one hour to do one acre of plantout. Fifteen acres could thus be done with a 4 person team in two days of work.

Preparatory Work: Mulch and Manure

The challenge to the above is soil preparation: trucking in manure, augering planting holes and mixing in manure with LifeTrac, followed by mulching of the future planing area. The trucking in of manure and mulch are the main challenges - because of the large volumes required. 15 acres at 200 trees per acre means 3000 plants - and one bag of manure (40 lb) mixed in per tree to make it grow really well, less if we plan on fertilizing later. We could also use about 40 lb of mulch per plant so that we do it once and don't have to worry about weeds the rest of the year. This makes for a total of 60 tons. Wood chips can be obtained from recycling centers. Plus, there's a sawmill relatively close-by, so we may also try sawdust for mulch. Sawdust may decompose too readily, though.

60 tons of manure and 60 tons of mulch total means 30 trips each with our present trailer. The manure source is local - 10 miles away - so this is doable with 1 person and 1 trailer working full time for 30 work days. Woodchips are not local - but about 30 miles away. The best mulching strategy is to use a thick layer of local hay mulch. This requires availability of a sickle mower, rake, and baler. The integrated strategy thus includes large round bales, sawdust, and freshly baled material from onsite and surrounding areas.

Plantout, Protection, and Grafting

After rootstocks are planted out, many of them may be grafted the same year. For example, we have seen peach rootstock attain sufficient size for budding the same summer . We are seeing the same this year with apricot rootstocks, and potentially with Myrobalan plum and apple rootstocks as well.

The key to successful growth is water. Water may be conserved with adequate soil preparation and mulch.

Tree protectors must be used against rabbits, mice, and deer. We have used 1/4" hardware cloth wraps successfully for this purpose.