by Kareen Erbe.
Recommendations for gardening on a budget that not only allow you to save money but also have the added benefit of building soil, conserving water, cutting down on pests, and creating a more ecological garden.
At the end of the growing season last year, one of my volunteers remarked, “I think you have given us hundreds of dollars worth of vegetables this fall.” Indeed, growing your own garden often means that you are saving money on produce that would normally cost a lot of money in the grocery store, especially if it’s organic.
However, with the money you invest in compost, seeds, and plants each season, not to mention the time, sometimes the vegetables or fruit that you’re harvesting from your garden seem like they are worth their weight in gold. Granted, there are so many intangible benefits to having a garden and I would never give up gardening because the ‘numbers don’t pencil.’ But, it is also possible to grow delicious and healthy food without breaking the bank.
In my video below, I go over my Top Ten Tips for Gardening on a Budget. These are recommendations that I practice myself that not only allow you to save money but have the added benefit of building soil, conserving water, cutting down on pests, and creating a more ecological garden.
Want to see more gardening and permaculture related videos?
Go to Broken Ground’s youtube channel here.
Also check out Broken Ground’s online gardening courses here.
#gardeningonabudget #freepermaculture #permaculturewomen #permaculturedesign
by Taj Scicluna.
The Scale of Permanence for Site Assessment and Analysis is an excellent tool that allows us to bring the ecological web of design together succinctly in a step by step process.
get the PDF version of this article:
Firstly, for Assessment, use each topic of the Scale of Permanence to create overlays for your Base Map, and go through these onsite to draw diagrams and observations on the page, whilst recording information on your design process worksheet.
For example, on your Climate overlay you may map the sun, the shade, the prevailing wind, etc. (You may also need to do research for this to fill the gaps). On your design process worksheet you may write what month is the hottest, when the first frosts are, how cold it gets, growing degree days etc. This information may come from a primary source, such as a local person who has experience with the landscape and history of the site, or secondary source, such as data analysis online from weather stations etc.
Remember if you do not know the ‘answers’ you can look things up later, just remain curious. It’s great to write all the questions that come into your head and you can try and research them later if needed.
The Analysis can start when you are Assessing the site, however be mindful of the difference. Assessment is based on Observation, where as Analysis is answering the ‘How and Why’.
The Difference between Observation and Analysis:
Definition: Noticing or Perceiving. Permaculture Assessment Context: Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus) is growing here.
Definition: Separating a material or abstract entity into its constituent elements; studying the nature of something or of determining its essential features and their relations. Permaculture Analysis Context: Yellow Dock indicates clay soils high in iron, and wet boggy areas where water accumulates.
Analysis is answering why (… does it do that? Is it growing here? Etc.) and how (… where does it come from? What effects it? Etc.)
We can start to ask questions about how what we are observing relates to the larger picture, what components it is influencing and what components it will effect in the future.
From here we can start to use Methods of Design, such as Relative Location based on the Needs Analysis of the components which the client wants on their site.
The task of a Permaculture Designer is to marry the needs of the landscape (as documented in the Site Assessment and Analysis) and the Client context (as documented in the client questionnaire and methods of design exercises) to create a synergy between the two, so humans can function as part of the ecological system.
Below gives you an idea of how you may use the Scale of Permanence for Analysis.
Questions to Ask:
Questions to Ask:
Questions to Ask:
Analysis Tools & Resources
4. Culture, Economics, Political, Social, Legal, Spiritual
Questions to Ask:
Analysis Tools & Resources
Questions to Ask
Questions to Ask:
Analysis Tools & Resources:
Questions to Ask:
Questions to Ask:
Analysis Tools & Resources:
9. Soil (fertility and management)
Questions to Ask:
Analysis Tools & Resources:
Questions to Ask:
Download PDF version here
by Kelda Lorax.
Contours and key line design help to work with the natural shape of the land rather than ignoring or misusing it.
Honoring the Slope of the Land, with Keylines and Contour
Working with contour/slope is like seeing the naked shape of the land and appreciating it, rather than ignoring, or worse, misusing it.
When we ignore the contours of the site:
It’s a crazy idea to make land flat without good reason! Sure, we want it flat for building foundations, terraces, tent camping, etc, but if we make land flat just for the heck of it:
So, how does one appreciate the natural shape of the land? By building, gardening, working “on contour”. Contour is a line along one elevation measurement. It is a line directly perpendicular to the slope (up and down) of a site. If you think of your standing body as a hill, then contour lines run across your body like a belt, bracelets, or a neck scarf. If someone were to pour water on your head, the water would travel downhill, but when water hits the belt (if you and the belt were made of earth), the water would slow and spread along that line.
We slow and spread water on a site by building on contour. This decreases the speed with which water runs off the site, decreases the amount of erosion that running water can cause, and is stored in the earth (which holds it like a sponge, which leads to massive increases in fertility).
What exactly is “building on contour”? It’s placing a path along one elevation line, or garden beds along an elevation line, or swales along one elevation line. They could all be on different elevation lines than each other, but if a garden bed starts at certain point, it then also ends at the same elevation, above sea level, as it started at. This is much easier to understand in pictures.
The land slopes down from bottom right corner of picture to the big compost piles at upper left. Some of the beds were built by guessing contour (yellow) and the others were built by measuring contour (red). The yellow-lined beds were always losing soil and depositing it on the left side of the lines (downslope), so they were quickly fixed for the following year.
There are many ways to find contour on a site in order to design for it. The easiest way to learn is to play around with a carpenter’s level on somewhere cleared, like a lawn or parking lot.
So, how do you find contour on a site if you don’t have a level with you? If you can make a very secure “A” shape of sticks out of any materials, and some kind of string and weight, you can find level. The frame doesn’t need to be perfect, just sturdy (not going to slip out of the shape you make it). Hang a string from the top, making sure it goes past the horizontal stick, and then add a weight to that string.
Now stand it up, and somehow mark the spot where both legs touch the ground, and mark on the horizontal stick where the string hangs past it. (Nevermind level! You’ll find it if you do this exactly). Now, turn the A-frame around so the legs are switched and in exactly the same spot as each other just were. Now mark on the horizontal stick where the string now goes past it again. Exactly in between those two points on your horizontal stick is where the weight will hang when the two legs are on exactly level ground with each other.
In the picture below, the carpenter’s level checks what the string and weight are already showing.
Here we’re practicing finding the slope of the land with an A-frame level. Everywhere the legs have found level is marked with a circle, and connecting the circles creates a contour line which shows that the site slopes from the left side of the picture to the right. Would you be able to guess that from just eyeballing the site? Photo credit to Butterfly Kiss Photography.
These tools do the same thing on a faster/bigger scale, though with less accuracy to tiny undulations:
Article about using the Bunyip Water Level.
What method you use depends on your scale, the degree of exactness you need in measurement, and of course access to different tools/materials.
Here’s a free, cool online contour mapping tool
Contour and Keyline Design
Keyline design is a step beyond working with contours if you need regular spacing of earthworks of any kind. If you’re working on a scale where you need all your tree rows exactly 10 feet from the next tree row downslope (or garden or terrace or animal fence, the exact component doesn’t matter), you’d quickly be in trouble if you start assuming you can do it on contour. Contour varies too much. At some points your tree rows would be 10 feet apart, and then 8 feet apart, and then 15. This matters if you’re using equipment and those variations will give you a headache.
For example: if you want just one pass with a lawnmower or tractor between rows instead of sometimes one, sometimes half, sometimes two. What also happens is that if the initial row is on contour and the following rows are exactly 10 feet (or whatever) downslope, is that the lower rows get more and more off-contour until they are potentially causing all the erosion problems that we’re trying to avoid.
Thus, the keyline system. The basic idea is that the starting row is on contour, but starts at a place called the keypoint on the slope's valley. First find the inflection point, where the slope goes from concave to convex, and the keypoint is just below that where water coming down a hill would naturally start slowing.
Check here to see how close you were:
And correct, the inflection points from one valley don’t necessarily match up on the same contour line as the ones from the next valley. They all erode and deposit in different ways.
Going from your map into the field is when you start to see the keypoints just downhill from the inflection points. It is a greener area that is hard to guess exactly from a topo map alone. Once you've identified your keypoint, this is the place to put your first marker. Then find your contour line (using any of the tools listed above) and map that line on the landscape.
It’s called your Keyline because it’s a contour line starting at the Keypoint. Then, from that keyline you can figure out rows (other lines) at regular intervals upslope or downslope. For example, if you want tree rows 20 feet apart, stand at your first Keypoint marker, walk upslope 20 feet and place a marker for your first upslope row (leave a friend behind on the keyline, holding the dummy end of a tape measure).
When you’re making that new row, don’t find the contour, simply walk with your friend and always be 20 feet upslope of her. Repeat for lines further upslope or downslope of the keyline. You can see that keyline also lays out faster in the field, though it may take some time to find the keypoint.
Instead of creating erosion, what happens is that all of the lines (though many of them are ever slightly off-contour) will slow and spread water from the valley to the ridge. This technique is known for sinking water into arid landscapes, thus the original intentions of the designer to hydrate landscapes to avoid wildfires.
Why would you use keyline rather than contour to set up your earthworks?
#buildingoncontour #contourandkeylinedesign #permaculturewomen
by Klaudia von Gool.
By observing and analysing our microclimate we can use permaculture design strategies to modify it.
Excerpted from our double certificate design course.
Climate will vary more locally through human structures, topography, altitude, vegetation and water masses. This is called microclimate. By observing and analysing our microclimate we can use permaculture design strategies to modify it.
Let's look at some of these factors in more detail.
Topography is the shape of the landscape and includes aspect and slope. Hills, mountains and valleys affect how wind moves through a landscape, as the wind moves around hills, speeds up near the top of hills, and funnels through valleys.
Aspect, the direction land faces, affects the amount of sunlight on a site. For example, a south facing site in the Northern Hemisphere will be a sunny site and can produce more biomass/vegetation.
Slope, the gradient or steepness in the land, will affect wind speed; this increases towards the top of a slope. Turbulence will be experienced just past the top of a slope. This is important information when situating wind turbines, as they work more efficiently without turbulence.
Cold air will sink and move down the slope. Accordingly, the slope will impact thermal zones, and a cold sink may occur just above structures or vegetation lower down the slope or in slightly depressed areas. In colder areas this can create a frost pocket.
Altitude. Temperature decreases with higher altitudes. We also find higher wind speeds and more moisture, because of rain or other precipitation at higher altitudes.
Studying existing vegetation can give us clues to rainfall, wind strength and direction and soil fertility. A way to discover the prevailing wind in our local landscape is by observing trees.
This picture shows how the wind has shaped the trees, restricting growth on the side that the wind blows from, so that there's more growth on the other side.
As well as trees being affected by wind, trees themselves can also affect the wind in the landscape and other microclimate factors. For example, in temperate climates it is cooler and less windy in a forest while it's hot outside of it, as trees provide shade and a more moist microclimate and act as a windbreak. At night it stays warmer in a forest compared to out in the open, as the trees create shade from the wind and trap warmth. This does depend on the season and vegetation/leaf cover.
On a larger scale trees contribute to the creation of rain through evapotranspiration.
Urban environments create warmer microclimates through the "heat island effect," as concrete absorbs more heat than the surrounding countryside. In general it is warmer in the centre of a city.
The hard surface of buildings, roads and straight lines of streets also create a wind tunnel effect, where wind speeds up. Tall buildings can create wind turbulence. Buildings can create a rain shadow, so there is a drier and a wetter side.
Microclimate and niche.
Microclimates are directly connected to ecological niches, where organisms occupy a space where they can thrive optimally. Creating, or being aware of having, a variety of microclimates, means you can have a wide variety of niches for more diverse planting, keeping animals, and thus increasing yields.
Microclimates and Permaculture Design
We can make modifications to a microclimate to reduce and direct wind flow, as wind has a growth limiting effect on vegetation. On a windy site, planting windbreaks and shelterbelts is one of the earliest modifications needed. These create more sheltered areas and can direct the flow of air, including cold air coming downhill. Using plants to reduce wind is more effective than solid structures, which create more turbulence. In addition, we can choose species for multiple functions, which again creates more yields.
We can modify our local climate or microclimate by adding water storage, which can modify temperature fluctuations. On a larger scale, we can introduce lakes or ponds to modify heat and to add light reflection. On a smaller scale, adding water storage inside a greenhouse or polytunnel will help buffer extremes of temperature.
In hot climates, planting trees and adding vegetation gives a cooling effect. This is as a result of shade and evaporation, which creates cooling.
We can modify climate and microclimate through buildings, like adding a greenhouse. When we place a dwelling to the North of a greenhouse (in the Northern Hemisphere) we can make use of surplus heat and protect plants. We can paint walls white in darker, shadier areas to direct in more light and improve growth and ripening by reflecting light. Dark walls reduce frost risk by keeping warmer.
We can use thermal mass like rocks or stone walls to absorb heat and plant more tender plants close up to it. We can also use the cooler temperature of the Earth, whilst it’s warmer at the surface, to create a root cellar for food storage into the Earth, without energy based refrigeration.
In cooler climates, you can create sun traps. These designs are sun-facing and wind-still, creating shelter from cold and destructive winds by capturing maximum sunlight all day. In the Victorian era in the UK, walled gardens were built on large estates to create microclimates for tender crops. Fruit trees were trained up against the walls in fan or espalier shapes.
Hot beds are created by placing small glass frames on top of piles of manure, which generated heat as they rotted down. This is a form of season extension.
Start making some notations on a basic sketch map of your design area. Notice how microclimates and permaculture design work with both intentional and unintentional design. Note other microclimate factors: buildings/structures, landform, altitude, aspect, slope, larger vegetation; sketch these onto your map.
Make a very basic notation of the microclimates with colours or symbols.
Note areas that are driest, wetter, windiest, most wind-sheltered, where it might be warmest in the morning and evening, and anywhere that would be cool all day.
What different needs and opportunities are associated with these microclimates?
This material is excerpted from the Climates, Biogeography and Microclimates module of our double-certificate design course, taught by Klaudia von Gool.
Klaudia draws on over 20 years experience and study to express her lifelong passion for the environment through facilitating people care and social design programs across the UK, Europe and the Middle East. She’s an Environmental Scientist, Consultant, Parent, Mentor, Coach, Permaculture Teacher and Designer and student of healthy intact cultures and indigenous wisdom. Using her many practical and ceremonial skills, her work focuses across land-based, community and inner sustainability in order to fully activate the human potential in service of life, culture repair and rebuilding the village.
Further information on this topic:
Cloud catchers. In an arid climate in Peru the people are harvesting fog for water as a low tech method of irrigating crops.
Regenerative Agriculture, Beyond Sustainability.
An inspiring film about regenerative agriculture. For the microclimate relevant part, watch from 12:35 to see the story of one farm, known as 'Dry Lands', that was destroyed by its previous owner. When the new owner replanted, he found that slowly the temperature on the land dropped, the climate changed, soil 'grew' as he added organic matter from vigorous pruning, water was retained, drought conditions were reversed and water started to run in the streams year-round.
#microclimates #ecologicalniches #freepermaculture #permaculturedesign #permaculturewomen #microclimatesandpermaculturedesign
by Marjory House.
Season extension with greenhouses is the best way to extend your growing season and increase yield, diversity and overall enjoyment.
Excerpted from our double certificate design course.
What is season extension?
In industrialised nations we have become used to being able to buy every type of fruit and vegetable all year round. When you grow your own, you quickly become aware of the limits to what you can grow in your area because of the seasonal nature of gardening.
Different crops are ready at different times of the year, with summer being the main season for the majority of crops. The further you are from the equator, and the higher your altitude, the shorter that precious summer season will be, and you may experience a hungry gap when few fresh vegetables are available.
Season Extension with Greenhouses
A super simple cloche or cold frame can work wonders for extending the season. But truly, if you want to create a beautiful, productive, inspiring, and multifunctional space on your site, you simply must build a greenhouse. Whether it’s a tiny makeshift hothouse you can barely stand up in, or a hundred yard high tunnel filled with mature trees, a greenhouse will increase the diversity, yield, and enjoyment of just about any site.
Top ten reasons to build a greenhouse:
Start seeds early (and late!) Many seeds need warmth to germinate and develop into healthy seedlings. If the growing season is short, getting ahead can make a big difference.
Protect tender perennials and grow exotic plants. Increase your yields by extending the range of plants you can grow in your climate!
Protect early blooming fruits (like apricot) from heavy rains. Flowers on fruit trees are often quite delicate and can be damaged by rain, wind or frost, resulting in big losses to your fruit crop for that year. Choose dwarf varieties and plant them right inside the greenhouse.
Covered space for propagation and transplanting projects.Some plants respond well to a bit of nurturing, resulting in stronger, healthier plants. And gardeners also respond well to a warm place to work on a cold day! Choose a corner of your greenhouse to double as a potting shed and you’ll spend less time carrying seedling trays around.
Channel heat into your living space in winter. Build a lean-to greenhouse built against the sunny wall of your house and enjoy the extra warmth in the house.
Indoor/outdoor space for messy projects. Leave an open area in a section of a larger greenhouse and you’ll find that you use it all the time, for all sorts of projects.
Zen gardens! There is nothing like a high-ceiling greenhouse full of blooming, tropical, edible, aromatic, and succulent plants. Build your own mini-arboretum and escape to it when you’re feeling down. A mentor of mine even had a tiny office in his greenhouse, where she would go to get away from the family and write.
Secure medicinal and high-value plants. A well-built greenhouse with a locking door helps keep both animal and human marauders from making off with your crop.
Increased humidity for mushrooms, aquaculture. Some greenhouse designs include extra moist, dark, humid zones for cultivating edible mushrooms. Aquacultures also enjoy a more humid environment, and doing something inside a greenhouse could also allow you to add powered pumps, lights, and other features.
Guest housing! Sleeping in the greenhouse when it’s full of plants is the best!
You can plan space for propagation (seed starting) in a larger greenhouse, or build something intended especially for getting a jump start on the season. For convenience, or for simple ergonomics, this should be a bench or shelf. Extra lighting can be installed and/or heat mats are needed in more Northern climates. In temperate climates this may not be necessary.
Generally your greenhouse should be attached to your home or nearby, in your zone one area, because you will need (and want) to go there every day.
Larger greenhouses used for preservation crops such as tomatoes, peppers, or fruit trees, should be placed in zone two, unless it is more of a kitchen garden, then it should stay near the house. On a larger scale it is possible to have all three.
When a greenhouse is in constant use throughout the seasons, in particular if it is filled with more permanent perennial crops, other factors need to be considered year round:
When choosing or designing a greenhouse or polytunnel, it is important to ensure there are sufficient doors and windows that can be opened on warm days. It is surprising how quickly it can get really hot inside, often way too hot for both humans and plants!
On the other end of the spectrum, (unless your greenhouse is heated in winter) if you live somewhere with extreme cold, or if you have particularly delicate plants, more heat can be captured by insulating the greenhouse with a double wall plastic or glass. Recycled bubble wrap can be used for small areas, and combining techniques such as white walls, rock mulches, and even a cold frame or some cloches inside your greenhouse, can make a difference to whether your plants live or die.
If you live in a zone with high elevations, where winter weather sets in early and the permafrost levels go deep, the most energy efficient way to capture heat is by digging well below that permafrost level, preferably into a south facing hillside. Then, make raised beds within the greenhouse using compost.
For most homestead type greenhouses, raised beds are a good option for efficiency, either filling them with a good quality, bought compost, or ideally with your own homemade compost. I prefer French double dug beds integrated with high quality, on farm made biodynamic compost. Others prefer no-dig beds.
Another option for very cold zones is to put heat coils under the beds. These can be heated by either geothermal heat or via a closed loop hot water system fed by a solar hot water heater, wood boiler, or on demand water heater.
Airflow is very important for any greenhouse situation. Air flow is linked to temperature control. When the vents are open, air flow increases. But what happens on colder days when the doors need to be kept closed? Not only do plants need C02 for growth, they need airflow to prevent molds and fungus.
TIP: The biodynamic preparation called 508 can help regulate moisture and keeps fungus down in the soil. It is quite simply Equisetum arvense (field horsetail). This is an ancient plant full of silica. Pick in Spring, dry, add one ounce dried equisetum to four gallons of boiled water. Let this concentration cool then put it in a bucket and let it ferment for a week to four months. Strain off the plant material and store in a glass jar until use.
In my experience, the best greenhouses and polytunnels include a pond. This helps with pest control because it provides habitat for predators, e.g. frogs. It also improves the air quality, so may be part of the answer to the previous question.
Because greenhouses and polytunnels are confined spaces, it is possible to turn them into exclusion zones. For example, Alice Gray of Tyddyn Teg, North Wales, has excluded slugs from the farm’s extensive polytunnels. She did this by laying a strip of bran all around the inside edge of each polytunnel. As long as the bran stays dry, slugs are unable to cross it, and as she laid it inside the polytunnels, it does stay dry. Then she applied nematodes within each polytunnel. These ate all the slugs inside the polytunnels, so the polytunnels are more-or-less slug free.
The main disadvantage of greenhouses and polytunnels is that the rain can’t get in, so plants do need to be watered regularly. Doing this by hand may be time-consuming, but it does mean you get a close look at the plants while you are watering them and may spot problems early, such as pests or mineral deficiencies.
However, irrigation systems are very useful, and can be designed to use rain water gathered from the roof of the glasshouse or polytunnel, or can be part of a wider system of channels from a pond or dam. Whether you use overhead sprinklers or soil-level drip feed depends partly on what you are growing: For example, some plants are more vulnerable to moulds if their leaves get wet, especially within a humid glasshouse.
Soil & Fertility.
You can plant your greenhouse plants in pots on the ground, on tables, or on landscape cloth. Or you can just plant directly into the ground. As always, consider your soil’s needs, and make specific choices based on the geography and climate of your area.
Within a rotation system, fertility is managed at least partly by the different needs and gifts of different plant families. For example, the pea and bean family feed the soil via the nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their root nodules. When planting perennials, in particular within the confines of a glasshouse or polytunnel, it is worth putting some thought into this before planting.
Do some research into the needs and gifts of different perennials and companion planting. Mulching works well, but remember it may introduce or encourage the pests you have just excluded!
Here are a bunch of examples of season extension with greenhouses in use in the temperate Willamette Valley of Oregon. Here in zone 8, a simple greenhouse can extend the growing season by two months on either end and makes a huge difference in our annual yields.
If you need ideas and inspiration you could go find a greenhouse! This could be in your local park or botanic garden, or in a community garden or on a neighbour’s patch. Notice the differences between what is growing inside the green house and what is growing outside.
Re-visit the greenhouse at different times of the year, and in different weather conditions (e.g. on a warm sunny day and a cold wet day). What changes do you notice, both inside and outside the greenhouse? Talk to the gardener(s) and ask them what they value most about season extension with greenhouses.
This material is excerpted from the Aquaculture and Season Extension module of our double-certificate design course.
Further reading on this topic:
The Year Round Vegetable Gardener, by Niki Jabbour. Niki is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She gardens year round in the cold north and hosts a weekly talk radio garden show.
Pool, Kristin. Introduction to Season Extension in Organic Vegetable Production Systems
#seasonextension #greenhouses #freepermaculture #permaculturewomen #seasonextensionwithgreenhouses
Marjory House has been gardening and farming in the Willamette valley of Oregon for over twenty years. She currently owns and operates a seven acre farm with over 450 apple trees, and over an acre of vegetables grown for restaurants, farmers markets and Serro biodynamic seed company. She has maintained a fruit tree pruning business for fifteen years and a biodynamic consulting business for the last seven years. She can be reached through her website www.gobiodynamic.com .
By Heather Jo Flores
I can't stop eating them. There's a fig tree at the place where I am staying and I can't seem to keep them out of my mouth! It's a huge tree, maybe 50 years old, sprawling across the low wood fence and dropping down into the neighbours' yard. They don't mind. Every October, both houses get more figs than they know what to do with, just from the one tree. It's a Black Spanish, and it's famous among fig aficionados as being one of most prolific, cold-hardy and easy to grow varieties.
If you don't have figs in your garden, you should plant one immediately! Plant 10! Figs are not only beautiful, delicious, nutritious and easy to grow, they also provide shade and privacy, create habitat for birds and insects, and are star players in food forests from Vermont to Arcata to Spain and back again.
The sprawling nature of a fig leaves space between for annuals and perennials. Try currants, comfrey, seaberry, canna and blueberries, for starters.
Fig trees can definitely take up a good amount of space, so give it to them. If you live in town or space is limited, plant the figs on an edge, against a back fence or on the parking strip. In the country, plant a patch to create a circular grove or establish a border. I have never had problems with deer eating figs, though your results may vary.
But not all figs are created equal. Many types of figs will literally drown in a wet winter and/or die back all the way to the ground every time it freezes. Here are my favorite types of figs. Each of these bears fruit at different times, so plant one of each and you'll have an extended bounty. These are available online and at most of the local nurseries.
Types of Figs
Black Spanish, as mentioned above, is always a winner. It loves hot summers and wet winters, and can be quite prolific, even in a marginal site. The fruits are medium-sized, dark, firm and juicy, and delicious fresh or dried. Naturally smaller than other varieties, in the right spot it can produce two crops a year.
Desert king is one of the best varieties for maritime gardens because it resists late spring frosts and ripens in mid-summer, even in cooler microclimates. Trees can get quite large.
Lattarulla, aka Italian honey fig, is more of a golden color, excellent for drying and can bear two crops in one season, one ripening in late July and the second in mid-September.
Vern's brown turkey fig, not to be confused with plain brown turkey, was developed by Oregon gardener Vern Nelson and is widely known as reliable, productive and prolific in temperate gardens from British Columbia to the Bay Area. It bears large, sweet brown figs and will often produce two crops a year.
Neverella, also called Osborne prolific, makes stunning, opalescent fruits. Naturally a smaller tree that is more shade-tolerant than other varieties, this is an excellent choice for urban gardens.
Petite negra grows only 3 to 4 feet tall — perfect for your container garden! Medium-sized fruits are reddish black and come twice a year.
You could also just take some cuttings from an existing tree in your neighborhood. Figs are super easy to propagate. If you know of one that does well where you live, just wait until it's done fruiting and then ask to take a few cuttings, either from the tips of the young branches or from the suckers around the base of the tree. If you get lucky, some of those suckers will already have roots growing! Get the cuttings established in pots and plant out in early spring while they are still dormant, or if you can keep the soil evenly moist for a month or two, then you can just stick the cuttings directly in the ground.
Once established, figs can be extremely drought tolerant, but, as with most trees, they need to be watered regularly for the first three years. Use this young-tree time to establish companion perennials before the shade canopy of the fig begins to spread. They respond well to an annual top-dressing of rich compost, but aren't especially needy when it comes to maintenance, fertilizers or pruning. In my experience, figs don't take kindly to being pruned, and whole sections can rot if a cut is made improperly. Prune if you must, but be sure to do it only when the tree is completely dormant: after Thanksgiving and before Groundhog Day.
Fun fact: Figs are an inside-out flower, and some varieties are pollinated by the aptly named fig wasp. Other types of wasps don't pollinate but simply use the figs as a nursery for their larvae. These wasps are also known to hunt insects that are harmful to plants, so having figs benefits your whole garden. "I wish I wouldn't have planted that fig tree" said no one, ever.
#permaculture #freepermaculture #permaculturewomen #growyourown #foodnotlawns #DIY
#foodforest #figtrees #typesoffigs
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