Replace Weeds with Seeds

An Abundance of Corn Seeds

Aloha Everyone,

The official start of Spring is just days away, and gorgeous healthy weeds are popping up everywhere.  We have dandelions, thistles, spurge, mares tails and a wide variety of other  volunteers that I can’t even name growing right up through the mulch!
What I’ve come to love about these volunteers is that they are really here to help. They get the garden started where nothing is growing, creating healthy nitrogen-rich leaves, and  breaking up heavy clay soil with their roots!  See here how useful these gardening allies are for creating crumble, friable soil where once we had dense clay!  
I’ve been enjoying time in the garden, listening to the birds sing, breathing in the fresh air and getting exercise as I pull up weeds and drop seeds or small seedlings in the holes left behind, burying the seeds or seedlings back up and then tearing up the leaves and dropping them for mulch. I give some of the dandelions leaves to the turkeys too – they are very fond of eating dandelions!
I’ve been planting lots of corn seeds because I still have a huge bag of corn seeds left over from last years crop, even after we ate a lot of fresh corn, froze some, and popped some. This year, I hope we can sell some too!
Well that’s our post for today – when you pull out weeds, replace them with seeds (or seedlings) of your preference!

Break off the flowers and seed pods from the weeds for disposal before you drop the leaves back on the ground, if you wish to prevent more weeds from self-propagating.

Aloha!

Food Forest Wisdom with John Oneill

Aloha Friends!

 

More and more people around the world are seeing the wisdom of growing food forests!!!  Hurray! 

In this video, John shares his insights into why food forests are the best way to heal, bring abundance, and ultimately peace to our beautiful shared planet.

Please enjoy the video, and be inspired to plant a food forest near you 🙂

 

 

 

Aloha Farms food forest Logo Roots Grow Fruits!
Roots Grow Fruits!

 


Winter Abundance in a Food Forest

Aloha Farms food forest Macadamia nuts in Shell - This crop has thin shells and are coming off the tree already cracked

Aloha Friends,

 

Wintertime doesn’t stop the food forest from richly producing abundance! 

The great freedom of having a forest-style garden is how easy it is to get an abundant harvest!

Here’s a list of  the “work” we have done this winter:

Please note:  This “work” can also be thought of as fun, good exercise, an opportunity to enjoy being in nature, and an opportunity to create a healthy oasis for life!

Broadcast last summer’s seeds onto the forest floor before a rainstorm – easy!   Stroll through the garden with a bag of seeds in hand, sprinkling them onto the mulch as you go, then let the rain wash the seeds down through the  mulch where they will germinate when the weather warms up.

Prune the pecan and almond trees to keep them shorter so we can easily harvest from them next year –  top pruning takes about 1 hour per tree at most, and if you do it every winter, the tree begins to take the shape you want – we like umbrella shapes, so we prune off the branches that are growing up too tall for us to reach.   Here’s a link to our post about why we prune in winter:

How Winter pruning increases our harvests

 

Chip the pruned branches into mulch, which we spread on the forest floor – Easy with our new Patriot electric chipper

 Create a hugelkultur from the larger pruned branches. Easy – here’s a link showing how it’s done…

How and Why to create your own Hugelkultur from pruned branches!

A bit of mowing our pathways.

And a whole lot of harvesting!!!

Other than that, THE FOOD FOREST GROWS BY ITSELF – check it out…

ONIONS AND GARLIC

The delicious green garlic tops and onion tops are in season now.  The roots will survive a frost, especially when covered with mulch so the soil doesn’t freeze.

 

 

Onion and garlic plants look like tall grasses
Onion and garlic plants look like tall grasses – note the ground is covered by mulch

 

Garlic growing around the perimeter of a fruit tree - it gets sun in winter and improves the soil surrounding the tree.
Garlic growing around the perimeter of a fruit tree – it gets the sunshine in winter and improves the soil surrounding the tree.

 

A A A A single clove of garlic will multiply into a whole bulb of garlic in 1 year.

1 year old Garlic, harvested in late summer. These bulbs each grew from a single clove.
1-year-old Garlic, harvested in late summer. These bulbs each grew from a single clove.

 

This is the flower of the onion - it's a whole ball of individual flowers, and each flower has little black onion seeds inside of it
This is a flower from an onion that grew last .  It’s a ball of small individual flowers, and each flower has little black onion seeds inside of it.


 

Onion seeds that fell to the ground last summer are this year's new onions!
Onion seeds that fell to the ground last summer are this year’s new onions! They look like tall thin grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EUGENIA CHERRIES

We enjoy eating these gorgeous purple cherries, seeds and all, either fresh from the bushy trees, added to oatmeal for breakfast, or dehydrated as snacks.  The turkeys love eating them too.  Every winter they produce abundantly – with no effort from us.

Eugenia Cherries are delicious and abundant in winter
Eugenia Cherries are delicious and abundant in winter

 

Use like cranberries in sauces or relishes or dry them for snacking. Delicious!
Use like cranberries in sauces or relishes or dry them for snacking. Delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aloha Farms food forest dried Eugenia Cherries, February 2017
Aloha Farms food forest dried Eugenia Cherries, February 2017

 

LEMONS, ORANGES, AND TANGERINES

These trees are worth planting if they grow in your area, because they produce useful delicious fruit for decades!  Plant them now and your grandchildren will thank you later 🙂

Aloha Farms Navel Orange Tree in February 2017
Navel Orange Tree in February 2017 You can tell by the trunk that this tree is very old, yet it still produces incredibly sweet and delicious oranges, year after year.
Aloha Farms food forest Lemon Tree in February 2017
Lemon Tree in February 2017 – This tree is over 40 years old – and it’s now healthier than it was 5 years ago!  Imagine, 40 years of lemons, in exchange for planting 1 lemon tree!!!

 

Aloha Farms food forest Tangerine Tree in February 2017
Tangerine Tree in February 2017  producing more heavily each year!
Aloha Farms food forest Valencia Orange Tree in February 2017
Valencia Orange Tree in February 2017 This is featured in our video (below) about increasing vigor in older fruit trees, and produces fruit year-round!!!

MACADAMIA NUTS

Each January, these trees produce a large crop, and smaller crops throughout the year.

Aloha Farms food forest Macadamia nuts in Shell - This crop has thin shells and are coming off the tree already split
Macadamia nuts in Shell – This crop has thin shells and are coming off the tree already split.  These have been soaked in saltwater and dried.
Aloha Farms food forest Macadamia Nuts February 2017 - a small portion of our harvest this year
Macadamia Nuts Drying February 2017 – a small portion of our harvest this year.  (with and without their shells).
The Macadamia tree is forming flower tassels for the next crop, while we are still harvesting this winter's crop!
Macadamia tree is forming flower tassels for the next crop, while we are still harvesting this winter’s crop!  The abundance doesn’t stop in a food forest!

 

The macadamia tassels have just begun to show their form. Cute!
The macadamia tassels have just begun to show their form. Cute!

 

Aloha Farms food forest Macadamia Tree in January 2017
Macadamia Tree in January 2017-  Healthier after a pruning and producing more than last year!

For more on Macadamia Nuts, please see our post from 2016:

How we process the Macadamia Harvests

GUAVAS

These tropical fruits grow safely here in a warm micro-climate at the edge of the oak tree.  

Aloha Farms food forest white guava tree in 2017 - with ripe guavas
White guava tree in 2017 – with ripe guavas

 

KALE

 

Aloha Farms food forest Kale in February 2017
Kale in February 2017 – There’s kale available year round

ARUGULA

Aloha Farms food forest Arugula in February 2017 - growing from last year's seed
Arugula in February 2017 – growing from last year’s seed. It spreads its own seeds,  growing with no effort from us other than harvest and prune. Last year, we made spicy mustard from the arugula seeds too!

LETTUCE

Aloha Farms food forest Romaine Lettuce growing from seed February 2017 - growing near Carrots, Clover and other Volunteers
Romaine Lettuce growing from seed February 2017 – growing near Carrots, Clover and other Volunteers

 

HERBS

Fennel, Parsley, Thyme, Mint, Sour Grass, Oregano, Stinging Nettle, Calendula and more can be found throughout the food forest.

 

Aloha Farms food forest Rosemary and Lavender - Some of the many herbs growing in February 2017
Rosemary and Lavender, Calendula and Nasturtium – Some of the many herbs growing in February 2017
Aloha Farms Food Forest Mint Growing in February 2017
Mint Growing in February 2017

 

 

Aloha Farms food forest Parsley growing from seed, February 2017
Parsley growing from seed, February 2017

 

Aloha Farms food forest Fennels and Stinging Nettles growing from seed February 2017
Fennel and Stinging Nettles growing from last year’s seed – along with other volunteers – in February 2017

 

Aloha Farms food forest Calendula and Lettuce growing along with other Volunteers in February 2017
Calendula and Lettuce growing along with other Volunteers in February 2017

 

Aloha Farms food forest Chamomile growing in February 2017
Chamomile growing in February 2017

TOMATOES!

Aloha Farms food forest tomatoes still ripening in February 2017
Tomatoes still ripening in February 2017

Here are some things that are not quite ripe yet, but growing:

 

COFFEE

Aloha Farms food forest coffee ripening in February 2017
Aloha Farms food forest coffee ripening in February 2017

 

PASSION FRUIT

Aloha Farms food forest Passion Vine in February 2017 - here comes the fruit!
Aloha Farms food forest Passion Vine in February 2017 – here comes the fruit!

 

Even now in winter, the forest is lushly abundant with food for us and for the animals that make it their home – and it’s so easy – we just go out and pick what we want!!!

We hope you try growing a food forest of your own, and it brings you

Peace,  Abundance, and Aloha 🙂

Aloha Farms food forest Logo Roots Grow Fruits!
Roots Grow Fruits!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Broadcast your Seeds Onto the Forest Floor

Aloha Farms food forest - Nasturtium seedlings under Lemon Tree

Aloha Friends,

We have good news for you!

 

You don’t have to meticulously plant seeds in your soil and cover them back up!  They will sprout if you toss them out on top of the mulch on the forest floor and wait for the rainwater to germinate them.

 

Onion seedlings popping up through mulch
Onions sprouting from seed that was broadcast onto the mulch. The seeds germinated when the rains came.

During summer of 2016, our beets, carrots, onions, lettuces, arugula, flax, basil, parsley, etc. produced thousands of seeds!!!  That is way too many seeds to plant individually. 

We experimented this summer by broadcasting thousands of our own seeds onto the mulch layer to see if they would come up.  Why shouldn’t they?  Weed seeds easily sprout up through mulch. We tossed out the seeds right onto the mulch surface and left them there for a couple of months.  When the rain came in autumn, they sprouted.

 

Lettuce seeds that landed on top of the mulch sprouted into lettuce plants
Romaine lettuce seeds that landed on top of the mulch sprouted into healthy romaine lettuce plants
Leaf lettuce growing from seed that was tossed out over the mulch on the forest floor
Many varieties of lettuce grow successfully from seed

One of the most important aspects of a forest is the covering of organic material on the forest floor.  Our soil is covered about 1/2″ – 1″ deep in a variety of organic mulch. 

Some people think that you have to part the mulch to plant the seeds in the soil underneath. This may be true for certain larger seeds like corn or pumpkin, but this was not the case for  our tiny seeds.

 

Carrots growing from seeds broadcast on top of the mulch
Up come some carrot seedlings!

 

Carrots thriving on the forest floor after we scattered the seeds and let them grow where they landed!
Carrots thriving on the forest floor after we scattered the seeds and let them grow where they landed!

 

Flax growing from flax seeds that were broadcast onto the surface of the mulch.
Flax growing from flax seeds that were strewn onto the surface of the mulch.

 

One day, just as the seedlings were starting to appear, many crows landed on the forest floor and started digging up the seeds.  After chasing them away, we placed this dragon kite in a tree near the seedlings.  

Crows think this Dragon Kite is a DEAD BIRD and won't come near it!
Crows think this Dragon Kite is a DEAD BIRD and won’t come near it!
The dragon kite is simply perched in a tree
The dragon kite is simply perched in a tree

This dragon kite scared the crows so much that they haven’t come back into the garden since we hung it in this tree!Apparently crows are afraid if you hang a DEAD BIRD on a tree or a pole for them to see.  Now the crows fly by, and when they see this scary dragon kite which looks like a dead bird, they cry out with a fearful CAW and they won’t land anywhere near it!   Even our pet turkeys are afraid of this kite and moan fearfully when they see it!

Compared to our first scarecrow, which didn’t seem to do anything at all – this has been amazing!

 

 

Aloha Farms food forest Scarecrow - scared us more than it did the crows!
This scarecrow didn’t scare the crows at all! He did, however, startle us at times!

 

 

 

Here are more seedling pictures.

Aloha Farms food forest, where a few onions have now turned into a field of onions - and there's no end in sight!
By planting the roots of green onions from the store after we ate the green tops, the roots grew into large green onion plants, which developed seeds that we distributed around the garden. Now we now have a field of green onions growing, and you can see there are seeds getting ready to create exponentially more onion plants! This is a great picture of nature’s abundance!
Aloha Farms food forest - new green onions growing next to the seed source - the previous generation of onions
See how the seeds of the onions drop all around and new onions begin to grow.
Aloha Farms food forest floor May, 2017 - this is the inside area of the "Middle Garden", which we had previously fenced in with portable fencing to protect the seedlings. In this picture are onions, strawberries, lettuce, and other seedlings that have established themselves on the forest floor, replacing the old weeds.
Aloha Farms food forest floor May, 2017 – this is the inside area of the “Middle Garden”, which we had previously fenced in with portable fencing to protect the seedlings. In this picture are onions, strawberries, lettuce, and other seedlings that have established themselves on the forest floor, replacing the old weeds.

 

Aloha Farms food forest - section of seedlings that we never fenced in and it's doing well! These seeds were planted using the "Replace Weeds with Seeds" method, and the seed-planting took place during a light rain, which was followed by a more substantial rain. Timing the seed-planting with the rain speeds the seedlings growth. We have fewer rabbits & squirrels this year too, which is why they can grow freely!
Aloha Farms food forest – section of seedlings that we never fenced in and it’s doing well! These seeds were planted using the “Replace Weeds with Seeds” method, and the seed-planting took place during a light rain, which was followed by a more substantial rain. Timing the seed-planting with the rain speeds the seedling’s growth. We have fewer rabbits & squirrels this year too, which is why they can grow freely! (Thanks to our resident Coyote – and that’s another wonderful story we hope to share with you soon!)
Aloha Farms food forest - Nasturtium seedlings under Lemon Tree
Aloha Farms food forest – Nasturtium seedlings under Lemon Tree. These are from the third or fourth generation of nasturtium seeds. Each new generation includes many new colors and varieties of nasturtiums!
Nasturtium flowers growing from seed sprinkled around on the mulch
Last year’s nasturtium flowers growing from seed sprinkled around on the mulch
Aloha Farms food forest romaine lettuce producing seeds
Here are the yellow flowers of the romaine lettuce plants. Each individual  flower will produce about 20 more seeds for new romaine lettuce plants!

 

An abundance of calendula flowers growing from seed scattered around the forest floor
An abundance of calendula flowers growing from seed scattered around the forest floor

We hope you are happy to learn about how easy it can be to plant seeds when you have a food forest! 

We wish you Peace, Abundance, and – let’s say it together –  Aloha!

Hügelkultur Will Make Your Arid-Climate Garden Burst With New Life

Aloha Friends!

Hügelkultur is a German word meaning “hill culture”.  Simply put, it’s a way to speed up the decay of fallen branches, logs, twigs, canes, vines, or any other dead vegetation by covering it with soil.  Once its covered with soil, the diverse soil-dwelling life-forms feed from the vegetation as they decompose it, creating richer, moister soil as they feed. 

Hügelkultur is not a new concept!

For thousands of years, people worldwide have imitated nature by creating hügelkulturs.  Our modernized world nearly forgot about this process until recently, when world-famous permaculture experts Sepp Holzer, Paul Wheaton and Geoff Lawton brought the practice into the limelight and now promote it as a perfect practice for working in harmony with Earth.

 

Practicing hügelkultur achieves these results:

  1. Hide the garden’s unsightly “dead” vegetation
  2. Feed the soil-dwelling life-forms that help your garden flourish
  3. Enrich garden soil as vegetation decomposes
  4. Release moisture into the garden soil


Hügelkultur works in synergy with earth’s natural processes!

Hügelkultur happens all the time in nature.  When a forest tree falls to the ground, fungi, microbes and insects feed on it as they help to decompose the tree into rich humic soil.  It once was a tree, but it becomes part of the soil that feeds plants with rich nutrients.

Hügelkultur works all around the Earth!

Hügelkultur works in all environments – from snowy mountain tops to rain forests, to deserts. 

Since our climate is dry and we get very little rain, we have learned how to use hugelkultur to benefit our food forest, and here is what we’ve learned.

How to Optimize Hügelkultur for Arid-Climate Gardens

In dry climates, if you lay a pile of fallen vegetation on the ground uncovered – it will take years or decades to decompose. 

If you cover that same pile of vegetation with soil, and  it will decompose faster, but if it’s not completely covered, that will delay the process. 

For our first hügelkultur, we followed this diagram we found on Wikipedia. This method didn’t work too well for us in our dry climate, although it works well in moist climates.

 

We had a pile of branches sitting on top of the ground, so we dug up some soil from elsewhere in the garden and covered the pile with the soil.   We didn’t cover all of the vegetation completely, so some branches stuck out.  Over time, the soil settled down further, which exposed even more of the vegetation.  After a year or two, we covered the pile with more soil, but that pile ended up taking years to become a rich garden bed.  

Hugelkultur pile atop the soil - not buried
Hugelkultur pile atop the soil – not buried This pile took much longer to decompose than the hugelkulturs we buried completely in the ground.

Here’s how the unburied  pile looked a couple years later – in the lower left area of the picture – it still had not decomposed!

Hugelkultur - to bury or not to bury
In Arid Gardens, Burying the Hugelkultur completely speeds the decomposition process dramatically.

The next hügelkultur we made, we completely buried the spent vegetation into the ground, and found that the soil rapidly became fertile.  In the picture above, where you see pumpkin vine, potatoes, and corn – all growing vigorously – that’s the hügelkultur where we completely buried the vegetation, which rapidly decomposed and jump-started the soil with new life!

Here’s how the process works:

Rake any sheet mulch to the side to expose bare dirt. Set the mulch aside to use on top of the completed hügelkultur.

Hugelkultur Step 1 - Rake aside covering of mulch
Hugelkultur Step 1 – Rake aside covering of mulch to expose the soil

 

Dig your trench deep and long enough to hold the spent vegetation.

Hugelkultur Step 2 - Dig Trench Deep and Long Enough to Hold Vegetation
Hugelkultur Step 2 – Dig Trench Deep and Long Enough to Hold Vegetation

Beginning with the largest pieces, fill the trench with your fallen branches, twigs, canes, vines, leaves, manure, fruit and veggie peels.

Hugelkultur Step 3 - Add Large Branches
Hugelkultur Step 3 – Add Large Branches

Hugelkultur Step 4 - Fill the Hole with Smaller Pieces
Hugelkultur Step 4 – Fill the Hole with Smaller Pieces

Cover the vegetation back up with the soil you dug out of the trench.  Our chunky clay soil needs a soaking of hose-water to help settle it in.  Water the pile to help settle it, then cover the pile with mulch.  

Hugelkultur Step 5 - Using the Soil You Dug out of the Trench, Bury  the Vegetation and Cover the Soil with Mulch
Hugelkultur Step 5 – Using the Soil You Dug out of the Trench, Bury the Vegetation and Cover the Soil with Mulch

 

That’s it – you’ve completed the hügelkultur.  

We had great success planting garlic cloves on the mounds immediately, and in the following spring our seeds grew vigorously in their new home. 

Practicing Hügelkultur allows us to recycle our forest vegetation and enrich our soil with little expense or effort.

 

Top 10 Reasons to Practice Hügelkultur in an Arid-Climate Garden:

 1. The trench you place the material into will also serve as a water reservoir in times of rain, capturing water for the water table
2. Broken and trimmed branches and other forest material transform into humic garden soil
3. Provide food for the soil-dwelling creatures
4. Release moisture into the soil as it decomposes
5. Sequester carbon into the soil and reduce carbon in our atmosphere
6. Requires less work than chipping or shredding material – especially larger branches and logs
7. As a raised-bed substitute, it requires no wood frame structure.

8. Just bury the material once, and leave it alone – enjoy the results for years to come.
9. Increases soil health and nutrition in the form of humic soil, which helps plants thrive.
10. Burning your fallen vegetation may be dangerous and will cause the potential humus to go up in smoke and release carbon into the atmosphere. Hauling it away requires a truck burning fossil fuel to carry it somewhere else.   Burying it is free and helps planet Earth!

 

Do’s and Don’ts: Creating Hügelkulturs in Arid Climates

  • Do dig a hole deep and long enough to hold your material and to leave you with enough soil to cover it back up.
  • Do leave the soil you dig up next to the trench, so it will be close to the trench when you’re ready to back-fill.
  • Do cover the material completely with soil.   
  • Don’t leave any of the material sticking out of the soil, as it will wick away your moisture and lengthen the decomposing time.
  • Do include fruit & veggie peels, grass clippings, green weeds (no seeds), leaves and  a little sprinkling of manure (if available) for a nitrogen source.
  • Do be mindful of any seeds you may be adding to the pile in the form of weeds or spent flower heads. 
  • Do add only those seeds you want to see growing next season!
  • Do cover the soil mound with organic mulch such as leaves, straw, chipped material or compost.
  • Do water the mound to help settle it – unless you prepare the mound just before a rain!

Here’s a quick look at a Hügelkultur we created:

Look for an upcoming post on where to position a Hügelkultur to be most helpful to existing plants and trees.

Aloha to you!

Aloha Farms food forest Logo Roots Grow Fruits!
 Roots Grow Fruits!

This year we had our best Macadamia Nut harvest ever!

Aloha!

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Walking past the macadamia tree this morning, I noticed a lot of nuts on the ground.

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I started gathering them in my pocket, then looked up into the tree and noticed these babies were ready to pick!  Instead of a pocket to hold the nuts, I needed a shopping bag 🙂

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They are completely ripe when the husk turns brown and releases the nut.  These are about to fall to the ground.

I noticed that some creatures were starting to eat some of the nuts, which tells me it’s time to harvest them.

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Here the husks have opened, and you can see the nuts, so they are ready to harvest.

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These are not yet ready to pick, because the husks haven’t split open yet.

 

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Here are some pictures of the heavy shopping bag containing the macadamia nut harvest.

They can’t stay in the bag or they will get moldy.  They need to dry out for a couple of days, and then I can take off the green husks.

Here’s my system for drying:

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I use these trays that you get from nurseries when you buy seedlings.

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I keep these old nursery pots full of rocks I collected from the food forest.  The rocks collect heat during the day and release it during the night, so they accelerate the drying process.  Bricks work the same way.

 

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I line the nursery trays with brown paper so the nuts don’t fall through. Paper is a good choice because it will allow air to flow through it.

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Pouring them into the trays.  A single layer of nuts will dry more quickly.

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Here’s where they will stay until the husks dry out and then I’ll take the husks off.  I leave the husks on for a few extra days in case they will help the nut to mature a little more. The husks will leave me with a new pile of organic material to lay out on the forest floor or to use as a dye.

Once the husks are off, the nuts will continue to dry for a few weeks.  Test to see if they are fully dry by shaking the nut.  When the nuts are fully dry, you should hear the nut rattling inside the shell.

Some of the nuts have already sprouted and can be planted in the pots to grow into seedlings.

 

 

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Macadamias are delicious raw or roasted.  Salted or unsalted.  Eat them by the handful or use them in baking and cooking.  A local grocery store sells the popular shelled macadamia nuts for $16.99 per pound.

Protect your Seedlings from Predators with Materials from your Garden

Rabbits & Squirrels & Gophers – Oh My! How We Protect our Seedlings From Being Eaten by Them – and You Can Too!

Aloha Farms food forest's Portable Garden Fence of PVC and Chicken Wire

We enjoy listening to the birds sing their joyful songs, watching the woodland creatures frolic in the garden, and seeing the darling faces of the moles when they pop their little heads up out of the soil and sniff around in the fresh air.  They enjoy frolicking in the food forest and eating many of the plants they find growing here.

We have enough abundance to share some of it with our furry friends, but when it comes to the newly sprouted seedlings that emerge from seeds we’ve recently planted, we have to set boundaries to prevent the hungry creatures from eating our new sprouts before they have a chance to mature into useful plants.

To create the necessary boundaries, we created a simple fencing system, constructed with 5-foot lengths of 3/4″ PVC pipe and PVC fittings (the kind you use to run irrigation lines), and some chicken wire.

Each section of the fencing is 5′ tall and 5′ wide, and we join them together with T’s and 3-way corner fittings.  With a small fence like the one pictured below, you don’t have to use PVC glue to hold it together – which leaves the material completely intact and re-usable if you decide to dismantle the fence.

Of the various configurations you could make from this material, we chose to make a 10-foot by 20-foot rectangle, but you could make it much smaller or larger.

After fitting together the pipe, we wrapped the entire structure with 4-foot tall chicken wire.  When the seedlings were very young, we draped deer netting over the top of the fence (as a ceiling) to prevent squirrels and birds from getting in.  Here’s a shot of our first enclosed garden from spring of 2014.  The fence successfully protected the sprouts 🙂

 

Our Portable Garden Fence
Our Portable Garden Fence

We  constructed a simple gate by adding one more 5-foot PVC post halfway between two of the existing posts and attaching it to the top and bottom of the fencing.  We cut the chicken wire here a couple of inches past where we installed the new post and wrapped the chicken wire around the post.  Then we wrapped the other side of the chicken wire that we had just cut onto a 4-foot piece of PVC  to give it a little stability while we opened and closed the gate.  Finally, we used a bendy foam-covered wire to tie the gate closed.  Here’s a shot of the gate:

 

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The Door into the Portable Garden Fence

 

 

 

 

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Here’s the Portable Fence, seen from the long side – it’s really great because you can move it easily from one spot to another and keep establishing new growth from seeds anywhere you put it!!!

 

We liked our prototype so much, we decided to create larger, semi-permanent fence, which we call “The Middle Garden”, because it’s a garden in the middle of the food forest!

This one is 30 feet x 30 feet and we used the same PVC framing method, but we had to use glue on the fittings to hold this one together.  We substituted deer netting for the chicken wire to save money (but ended up having to wrap a 2-foot tall section of chicken wire around the entire fence at ground level later because the rabbits chewed through the deer netting).  We also pounded stakes into the ground and tied them to the posts to help keep them upright.  Here’s a shot of our creation on March 10, 2014:

The Middle Garden – 900 sq. ft. fenced, covered in mulch, and ready to plant with seeds!  Hurray!!!

The Middle Garden - 900 sq. ft. covered in mulch, fenced, and ready to plant! Hurray!!!

We also created a similar, but new gateway, by pounding a piece of rebar into the ground and slipping a PVC pipe over it.  In the pictures below, you see how we lift the PVC pipe to reveal the rebar which holds it in place.

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In the middle garden, we’ve planted countless seeds and grown them into healthy mature plants, and have been able to save the next generation of seeds to use in future plantings. We saved seeds from onions, carrots, beets, lettuce, corn, pigeon peas, sunflowers, radishes, squashes, peanuts, peas, and whatever else went to seed in the garden.  Having removed the weeds, covered it in mulch, and fenced it off  has made possible a successful garden space that’s protected from hungry critters!

 

Here are a few pictures of what we’ve grown in “The Middle Garden”  🙂

June 2014 in The Middle Garden
This was June 2014 in The Middle Garden – our first planting from seeds – we were thrilled with the success!

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Here it is today, dominated by pigeon peas and kale (which we planted from seed last year) and strawberries (which we planted as small plants last year), and with newly planted seedlings of peas, beets, peanuts, onion and garlic popping up.

We were enjoying our autumn seedling success, until a family of gophers moved into the middle garden last month and are now busy eating the earthworms and the new seedlings and stirring up the soil.  As cute as they are, they still have to go!  A few days ago, we installed 2 Sweeney’s Sonic Spikes into the ground, which run on solar power and repeatedly emit an annoying beep sound once or twice a minute 24 hours a day!  That did not work at all for us. Maybe because we live in a noisy place.  We saw a little gopher snake the other day,  we are really hoping that nature will work this out.  If the problem gets too bad, we’ve considered installing owl boxes or getting a cat or a dog to drive them out.

Late 2016:

It turned out that hawks keep the gopher population in check, and we don’t have to do anything.

We still have gophers appearing in the garden, but we stopped fighting them because we began to appreciate the great job they do of bringing up unwanted debris from the soil so we can easily collect it and dispose of it, and of creating mounds of really nice soil that we can use for potting cuttings and seeds.  Here’s a short clip of one of these cuties at work:

 

 

So that’s the story of how we protected the seedlings in the food forest from being eaten by our furry friends – and you can too!

Thank you for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it.

🙂

Aloha!