As I reflect upon this last year of tree planting through the design documentation that I love to do on these days that are cold and day length is short, I remember what was and what is. My yearning to plant trees is still strong, mostly limited by resources like time and money. Nonetheless, the desire to create pockets of biodiversity here at Treasure Lake is still there, scaled to fit these resource limitations and abundance in other ways. It has become quite obvious to me the speed and scale to take to ensure the trees that get planted this year will be able to be taken care of next year as well. That compounds over time as the yearly spring and fall plantings begin to add up over a 4 year period. Moreover on the pattern level, the where and how (earthworks) to plant just pops out in my daily walks and travels around the farm. Here on my families land I mainly work the edges through the develop nuclei and let them merge over time pattern of small scale intensive. Furthermore, my time constraints often come from caring for animals, which their manures from their housing is being directed partly to tree crops and plantings through deep mulching. Areas that I want to do broad acre tree crop plantings through alley cropping are now getting animal rotations thus helping to improve the soil before we ever make that intervention.
Treasure Lake Food Forestry
Here on a 60 acre property, it is hard to not say that nearly all of it is actually a food forest. The amount of foraged foods harvested this year probably outweighs my cultivated gardens and trees. But the cultivated stuff is young, there was a late frost, and the semi cultivation of the forest for over 20 years now does make it an easier statement and easier harvests. Nonetheless each year we build off of existing edges and existing plantings while building out new spaces. For example the back hedgerow got a little longer and thicker and a new banks development was created thus extending that edge. So each year that we are here, we will continue to manage what is here, plant more, and envision what is next. I try and operate with the mantra of don’t start planting until most of the stuff you planted before is well taken care of. Sometimes you do it concurrently because of the weather and spaces. Furthermore, I have lost too much stuff in the past to not take care of stuff properly, especially when I do have a mountain of woodchips and now heaps of manures.
The expansion of the Growing Value Nursery here at Treasure Lake was enough for a whole years worth of writing and work. Nonetheless it is just one part of the bigger story. This year really marked a significant growth of the size and offerings of the nursery. The size here at Treasure Lake tripled, we implemented a new urban site in Pricehill in Cincinnati, and the organization of the nursery was upgraded. Each year I have been back I have taken one step further into the organization and day to day operations, especially in the very busy and demanding spring. From a design perspective, with the tripling of size, it is the four very large sugar maples that really make this all possible. Of course the water infrastructure as well as access and the building headquarters being right there is critical as well. The design drawings show this below as well as the 7000 sq foot area taken up by plants.
Edible Landscaping at the Tiny House
This is one of those examples of you set up the framework in the fall (19) and then you plant out further in the spring (20). So after sheet mulching beds and planting paw paw and strawberry at 15 ft spacing, this spring was time to add in different layers with bushes in between. As you can see below we used currants, gooseberries, bush cherry, and honeyberry mainly. Beyond that, a greywater/ rain garden system was implemented and combined well together with pipes from both going to the same earthwork. Remember from a design perspective, both are holes in the ground with mulch and plants on the simplistic pattern level. Additionally after living in a zone 0 for a bit of time, some of those classic herb/ flower beds sprout around the house as well a veg garden. Being in sandy soils and knowing that it would mainly be a summer garden, we went with the sunken bed strategy that I loved in my time in the Iberian drylands (2009- 2016).
Swale implementations are based upon seeing runoff that can be infiltrated rather than running off. We did exactly that with the winter weekend PDC of early 2020. In this area where our unique sandy soils switch to the normal heavy clays, we indeed hit pockets of each as we dug this swale. We did combine elements of both swale and terrace as we reinforced the backside of the swale mound with logs as you would a terrace. Furthermore being varying degrees of shade, we added in what we could on the low budget and plan to plant more Euro Pears in this area. Its another phase in this area just to the north of the paw paw orchard that is also being currently upgraded.
Another Hedgerow/ The Chicken Yard
The same property line as the hedgerow that I have been developing for years now is being furthered extended east. I have big plans of filling in with more evergreens to compliment the existing large white pines, but for now taking advantage of a great little microclimate. About 10 years ago, when I was in full swing of my travels, I put in a handful of nut trees on this back edge. Only one survived that being a northern hardy pecan seedling so I planted two grafted ones on its flanks to compliment. The intended design for this area is to beef up the evergreen windbreak and fill in on the south with tree crops. This pattern will extend to the southern border of the chicken/goat yard as we need more shade in this area come summer time. To make it more hospitable, well I did what Uncle Bill told me to do; Plant Mulberries in your chicken yard. Those drawings in the Intro to Permaculture book still are burned in my head of the chicken yard.
The Back Hedgerow
This being my oldest planting of any real size and success (fall 2017 start), this section continues to fill in and grow well. The nuclei are ready to merge even more this year as my 6 ft diameter beds have grown to be more like 8 to 10 ft diameter as the woodchip mulch is extended outwardly and thickened each year. A lot of energy goes into this 250 ft long hedge each year so I decided to augment some things this fall. With some of the blueberries simply never performing, even after replacing a few of them, I planted other stuff right next to them. I figured why even bother pulling it out and lets take advantage of these circular growing spaces that have been mulched and fertilized for years. So five of those circles were augmented. The first was to add a Kousa dogwood right next to one that has been growing quite well since that fall 2017 inception. Next to that two cornelian cherry as they are in the same family. In front of that line, a couple of the circles got the Asian Pear Olympic variety. That felt good to make that switch and know these trees will instantly thrive because the soil has been building for years. As I did this I thought why not more Asian Pears and on my walks of checking on these new plantings over the next weeks I let two more spots for Asian Pears reveal themselves, partly from looking at the maps seen below and partly form on site observation. So we thickened the back hedgerow on the far west side with two more Asian Pears from the nursery that were looking very ready for a soil home. Kosui and Shinseiki bring our total of Asian Pears on the property up to 10 with six different cultivars. I look forward to collecting more cultivars. And with the 2021 season ahead, unless we get a late frost again like 2020, we should be starting to see some fruit production from plums and pears as the grafted trees coming into fruit age is upon us.
The New Banks Development
With a permablitz badly needed for the community and the site, we brought a good sized group of 40 or so together one mid November for some cool bee hive like motion. It actually went very smoothly as we did lots of staging work beforehand that allowed people to start finding their roles and begin implementing. So the hazelnuts and paw paws and elderberries were dropped in on the eastside through individual tree planting terraces. Also the native buttonbush shrub was added lakeside to bring back lake edge pollinator habitat in the coves of the lake. Above that terraces of apples and elderberry were added to further our banks development mission that we started last year. This year it was the apples turn to be the star of the show and this time within a valley rather than the faces of the ridges. The apples were a mix of tightly packed dwarves and semi dwarf trees flanking on the edges where there was more space. Two dolgo crabapples were added to ensure pollination and to compliment two mature redbuds already there growing. In this way we bring that botanical forest mission further, to utilize our already existing trees as framework for these sorts of plantings rather than simply clear cutting for a blank slate. I really look forward to caring for this particular planting because so many of the other plantings are slightly out of the way of the zone 1
path that extends a quarter mile from the tiny house to the big house, both zone 0’s here at Treasure Lake. So daily I get to observe this new planting numerous times a day and am super thankful for all who came and planted!
I really enjoy being able to setup these spaces and do the work of building soil rather than weeding lots. That means deep mulching and at the end of the day I kid with so many I teach that Permaculture is just moving organic matter from one place to another. And that folks is why we do design work. Start designing for spring plantings. And once more thank you for all the helping hands who contributed to tree planting, mulching, fencing, and general care for this place.