Designing at a farm scale involves a little more complexity, more systems to functionally interconnect, finances are usually stretched and there’s generally just a lot going on. That’s especially true in a Swedish spring when growth is explosive, and in autumn when harvesting and storing nutrient dense food and medicinal crops to keep up vitality through the long dark winter.
Pasture is not the optimum starting point for establishing trees. Grasslands are bacterially dominated through to balanced fungal: bacterial ratios in the late successional grasses. Shrubs and vines tend to thrive in F:B ratios of 2-5:1; whereas with our tree crops we are talking F:B ratios of 5-100:1 or more (up to 1000:1 with conifers and old growth forests). Cultivation of soil selects for bacteria.
The mounded tree lanes were seeded immediately to kick start succession with plant assemblies we would actually like, timing being critical in this whole process. Once the tree mounds settled the tree and shrub crops were planted as bare roots / modules at regular spacing’s. In the back field there are two rows of crops planted according to their height to maximize solar collection due to the general E to W row orientation. In the front field the main tree crops are planted over a central rip with shrub crops on either side, due to their N to S orientation: The trees and shrubs are of high value, and longer-lived perennials deserve a good start in life. Bare roots are dipped in diluted molasses & kelp mix during planting out then watered in with 20l of the same to help kick start fungal symbiosis. We used recommended doses of commercial fungal inoculants and will be continuing compost tea applications throughout the season. (Kelp and fish products can also be useful in boosting initial tree growth.) We also added rock dust around each tree/ shrub. It is worth considering the relative placement of any amendments. Adding everything to a planting hole can possibly limit the organisms desire to root outwards in search of goodies. We also have compacted land that has not been grazed effectively (or utilized otherwise) for many years, with a consistent plow pan at 20- 25cm depth. We needed to prepare the ground for planting, lift compaction, deal with water and establish a multitude of support plants simultaneously.
Main Tree Crops
Main Shrub Layers
Marginal & Contour Plantings
Chinese Mahogany (leaf crop pollard)
European Lime (leaf crop pollard)
Support Species List (hand broadcast seed)
Our groundcover mix was sown into the formed tree beds immediately after mulching trees & shrubs to quickly establish perennial groundcover. The multiple benefits we are looking for are nitrogen fixing, mineral accumulation, edible crops, insectary and nectary sources as well as protecting the soil. Having perennial support plants helps tip the F:B ratios in our favor, and the addition of chop and drop mulch and woody compost from deconstructed biomeilers will ensure a good supply of fungal food is present. Rock dust, kelp, provide the wide mineral spectrum being necessary to encourage fungi in depleted agricultural soils.
After deep ripping with the Yeoman's plow we tested the Simon bedformer and to our surprise it cut through our fairly dense sod with no problems. We took 2 or 3 passes to get the finish we wanted, the 3rd pass necessary only in the front field which has a higher clay content.
Plans for 2015 involve a lot more tree planting, introducing pigs into forest pastures, scaling up layer & broiler production commercially as well as creating several water features in the landscape. We’ll also be working on passive solar heating, pond building and continuing our experiments with Jean Pain composting plus a whole bunch more. We are using the down period to build new portable and multi- functional animal shelters and working on processing and marketing locally. Plan, plan and plan! We will also be running intensive trainings again throughout the summer with a focus on supporting more folks to step into professional design as well as encouraging even more people to start land based enterprises of their own. You can follow us via the website or our Facebook page if you’d like to stay in touch, we post a lot of regular updates and insights and document our process so it can benefit others who can’t be here!
Interested in our educational offerings?
90 hr+ Permaculture Design Course May 2015
8 Week Internship (FARM SCALE & PROFESSIONAL PERMACULTURE DESIGN) MAY - JULY 2015