We were back in the Food Forest on June 12, 2015 to check on our Juneberry experiment. There are several Juneberries, also known as Serviceberry and Saskatoon, in the food forest, and in my experience this plant needs little to no special attention, is for some reason only lightly harvested by birds, and ripens its berries at a great moment in the sequence of early Summer fruit–after strawberries & cherries and right before mulberries. Juneberry also seems to be low on pest issues, from every one I’ve seen, perhaps because they flower and produce so fast that even if pests get in the berry they are consumed unnoticed.
All resources say Juneberries will produce better in full sun… that may be true. I have always harvested from serviceberries that were in full sun, but we planted our bushes in both sun and partial shade. At the moment, the ones in partial shade, almost full shade under the black walnut, are out performing in health and vigor those in full sun. All flowered this year, but only one has a couple of berries on it. My guess as to why: the lack of pollinators in the area when they flowered. Bees for the forest should be en route in July to do their part for Spring 2016 pollinating duties.
Personally I think serviceberry, and hazelnut, should be planted in any available unused space that doesn’t have anyone to manage it. We could even stack them with serviceberry trees over serviceberry shrubs. Figs too, should be stuck in spaces that are hot and won’t be managed. Cornell University Extension has the scoop on Juneberry Nutrition, and it’s mighty impressive. Check out the results of our tough love treatment of a Juneberry that wasn’t thriving inspired by Sepp Holzer, author of Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening
Fruit Tree Pruning and Solax Training
Today we pruned for architecture. Early in the tree’s life I want to start creating the structure I’m aiming for, so that I can make any needed adjustment sooner rather than later. Also, by beginning a lot of interaction early the tree and I can get to know each other and I can respond to any needed changes quicker if I visit with it frequently.
Planting fruit trees in the fall is a must, I feel. If you plant in the Spring you have to water the tree all summer and can’t start working together until the next year. If you plant in the Fall the roots have done a lot of moving around over winter and are well into the native soil, thus reducing need for water. I feel as though the tree did its Winter thing and is now either happy or pissed and it’ll let me know that by Spring. Major thanks for Baltimore Orchard Project folks for bringing their experience to lend a hand with some professional fruit tree pruning.
As for architecture, I want wider branch angles for strong crotches. If the angle is too close and I let a twig become a branch it could later break and cause damage to the tree when it rips bark off along with it. The purpose of the solax training is to change the hormone response in the tree. To simplify, when we bend the branches in an arch like that the hormones decide the tree doesn’t need to grow that much, thus reducing the need for later pruning while still producing plenty of fruit. The tree featured in the photos below is a peach, and is not being pruned or trained according to convention. The other peaches we will train into a vase shape more like convention, but I wanted to experiment with shaping a peach tree. For more on solax training I recommend the book “Growing Fruit Trees” by Jean-Marie Lespinasse and/or our Holistic Orchard Management class. I don’t know of anyone in the US doing solax training. Growing Fruit Trees: Novel Concepts and Practices for Successful Care and Management
Plants to make Foliar Sprays (aka Compost Tea)
Foliar sprays are nutritional boosts to fruit trees, and we planted horsetail, stinging nettle, and comfrey for this purpose, to use as Summer sprays. When the nettle and horsetail are in their seeding stages in Summer they are high in silica. Making silica available to a fruit tree means building good cuticle defense – the waxy exodus that covers the outside of the leaves and fruitlets. This helps prevent Summer rots and aesthetic diseases like sooty blotch and fly speck. Comfrey is used for high calcium. Fruit cells need a lot of calcium to give integrity to the fruit. Using comfrey also delivers liquid nitrogen which is bioavailable to the tree very quickly. Last to add to each of the brews is garlic, garlic scapes and/or wild garlic. The organo sulfate compounds in garlic have the ability to help other constituents pass through a membrane, in this case the leaf cells. The fermented brews would work without garlic, but with it – it gives a real boost. A five gallon bucket of brew will make 100 gallons of spray and cover about an acre of trees.
Exciting to See this week:
Diversity in the Forest
Thanks to CGRN and Parks and People Foundation for providing tools and volunteers!
- Pruned Fruit Trees
- Began Training Trees
- Planted Tomatos
- Planted Ostrich Ferns
- Planted Wild Ginger
- Watered New Plants
- Harvested Wisteria