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Rustling Knapweed Forest Garden
Rustling Knapweed Forest Garden
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425 White Oak Rd., Lawton, MI, US
Climate zone:
Cold Temperate

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Spring Plantings

Project: Rustling Knapweed Forest Garden

Posted by PJ Chmiel almost 13 years ago

An overview of what I've been planting in the last couple of months.

I got a lot of trees and shrubs from the Native Plant Sale at the local Conservation District, and I also got a bunch of inexpensive trees from the Arbor Day Foundation, in addition to some from other local nurseries like Oikos.

I installed a hedgerow along the western edge of the front area, consisting of American Hazelnuts, Serviceberries, Elderberries, Dogwoods, Nanking Cherries, Ninebark, and Silver Buffaloberries for nitrogen fixation. So far most things seem to be doing well. The plants are at about 6' spacings, a compromise between allowing full-size growth and close hedgerow spacing for quick results; so it will take several years to fill in.

I've also planted more "conventional" type fruit trees - a Stayman Winesap standard-size apple, a semidwarf Jonagored apple, a dwarf Bing cherry, a standard Black Tartartian cherry, a standard Elberta peach, standard Methley plum.

Additionally, I planted 2 Littleleaf Lindens (edible leaves in salads) which I will pollard, 2 Western Sandcherries, an American Highbush Cranberry, a Carolina Silverbell, a Kentucky Coffeetree, 10 Tulip Poplars, a couple dozen various conifers including 2 Korean Nut Pines, 3 more Pawpaws, 5 oaks, 7 chestnuts, 1 Michigan Pecan, another highbush blueberry, a handful of extra Nanking Cherry and Serviceberries, 6 Leadplant for nitrogen fixation, several more Buffaloberries for same, vetch and Illinois Bundleflower for n-fixation near existing trees, 50 or so new Comfrey plants as borders around garden areas, several new herbs and groundcovers, and a handful of new native prairie flowers for beneficial insects.

Currently planting my regular/annual veg gardens. A very busy time! I also just bought a house and am looking forward to transforming that lawn into something beautiful and useful. Much, much more to plant in the forest garden, will resume tree planting in the fall as things go dormant. Looking forward to it, even in just the year I've been working on this site some nice things are happening, which gives me a lot of encouragement going forward. Thanks for reading!

Comments (5)

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Marc Van Hummelen
Marc Van Hummelen : Hey PJ, just read your project, sounds really nice. But all those trees on just 3 acres? Where do you put them? I guess you're gonna pollard them all, or keep them as a large hedge or something? I know that tulip poplars, for instance, or chestnuts (American or European?) grow immensely big. How do you plan to keep them all under control? Marc
Posted over 12 years ago

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PJ Chmiel
PJ Chmiel : Hi Marc! Yes, some of the trees will be coppiced and pollarded at intervals. I've mapped the mature canopy widths out and most of them are just touching, with little overlap, so I should be able to get decent production from most. Of course some will die (some already have) and I'll either leave those gaps or fill in with smaller ones.
Posted over 12 years ago

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Carrie Jones
Carrie Jones : Sounds terrific. I am also working with 3 acres on the edge of town. I am working on a plan for a neglected orchard on 3/4 of an acre, considering doing a food forest. I am wondering how you get water to your hedgerows. I have an irrigation system that will allow me to do drip or sprinkler, I currently run sprinklers in the orchard. Maybe you don't even have to irrigate there?! I am in Idaho...

Best of luck and thanks for sharing! Carrie
Posted about 12 years ago

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Rod Endacott
Rod Endacott : PJ, I'm interested in how you're doing with the Knapweed control?

My experience with it, here in south-central BC, Canada, is that it is extremely invasive, and very hard to control. But controlling it is a must as it will take over.
Posted over 11 years ago

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PJ Chmiel
PJ Chmiel : Hi Rod, I've scythed it a few times where it is denser (just before flowering or at the beginning of flowering), and hand-pulled in areas where it is sparse, but the soil seed bank is probably substantial, so it will be giving me trouble for years to come. I'd like to train some goats to develop a taste for it! I've noticed that where I've improved the soil it is much easier to pull. Where it has been mowed it tends to grow horizontally along the ground instead, which makes it harder to pull or re-mow later. Thanks for writing, best of luck to you with yours!
Posted over 11 years ago

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