Gorilla Gardener & Nature Libre

Foresterie, reboisement, haies, vergers, savannes, arbres fruitiers et à noix, sécurité alimentaire, agriculture industrielle, breeding, permaculture, méthodes de semis d'arbres productifs et vigoureux, alimentaires ou décoratifs.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Gorilla Gardener

The Gorilla Gardener
Gorillas eats the best fruits they can find. That helps those «selected» fruits to propagate. This primitive propagation method gives fruits that are often better tasting than our High-Tech ones. Nature has a lot to offer. In the long run, natural environments can abound with delicious wild fruits and nuts. Plus lots of very coveted aromatic edible and useful wild plants that can only grow in or near forests. A very rich but currently rare environment in this era of clear-cutting. Very few of these places are left.
Seedlings are the best way to restart a maximum of more natural and very useful vegetation. Encourage and show how to grow good tasting fruits and nuts from seedlings. It's essential for future food security. This is the cheapest and most natural way to grow small or large quantities of strong and long lived productive trees that demand little or no: fertilization, pruning, pesticides, or irrigation.
Trees that can be used for replanting forests and hedges, or even just to make a big bonsai.
If we were gorillas the world would be covered with delicious apples, plums, cherries, blackcurrant, currants, cutters, salsepareille, pecans and hazelnuts, fine-herbs, aromatic roots and barks, sprouts and edible flowers. All seedlings... Sown and maintained with modern agricultural and forestry methods. Let us imagine our planet cultivated in a more naturaly. Seedlings gives good big and beautiful harvests!
Introduction
The way we treat nature make us very fragile in the event of natural disasters like too much wind, heat or other extreme weather. We need to find more natural ways for development and a more healthy way of life. We can enliven our farms and homes landscaping with fruit and nut trees and edible perennials. Trees and mushroom are the main actors of the regenerating cycle that builds soil fertility and brings rain. We need them!
Seedlings will add value to your land. They can be used for hedges between fields or houses where they protect from drying or cold winds or too much sun in the summer. These hedges can be so beautiful with a multitude of flowers and leaf colors. Networks of hedges, when large enough (like citywide), will filter and slows winds, which help to bring rain and slows desertification. They have ton of advantages for us.
The opposite example is when a zone is clear cut; wind acceleration can very often be felt and seen the next year: dust, falling of trees on nearby properties and the local micro climate being colder in the winter.
CHALLENGES
Because industrialized agriculture use grafting extensively since 1800 (and now cloning), very few peoples knows how to efficiently grow a good fruit or nut tree from seeds. Seeding is still used for large scale growing of many tropical fruits. Just take a look at Madagascar.
Some breeds gives better results when seeded. It may be important to know and understand the ancestry of the pips, stones, kernels, nuts or whatever seeds you are going to use to start the seedlings and later for searching what type of seedling you need to select and which ones to thin. The information is mostly in university databases and is difficult to access and understand.
To explain how to select and prune the seedlings; irrigation, tools and fertilizers; how and when to plant; where to get good seeds; how to companion these orchards and hedges with flowers and other interesting plants. It takes an Internet gardening software and database where we could see the orchard virtually grow! Plus lots of photos of natural productive settings.
If the project really fires up, billions of fruit and nuts seedlings will be planted over the years. Just one small normal forestry project would use millions of them.
WHY GROW FRUITS AND NUTS TREES FROM SEEDS?
Seedlings are way cheaper and easier to grow, and much live longer. Along with their companion plants these vigorous trees can output heavy yields of nutritious and tasty natural foods if we only care a little for them. Properly selected seedlings give fruits nearly as fast as transplanted and grafted trees. In difficult terrain, cloned grafted and transplanted trees are not able to adapt and just dry on spot, but the seedlings will be there for the next hundred years. They better resist insects, drought and other stresses and live longer than artificially grown trees. They are a lot more stronger and able to resist Global chaotic climatic changes. It's the easiest way to start�orchards? Or even only one tree.
More vigorous and long lived trees.
Vigorous roots are the first thing a young seedling grows. Thats why a two years seeded tree is smaller than a transplanted one; he is building a big and deep powerful root system. The transplanted one is trying to make big fruits as soon as possible because he knows that with is broken roots and other malfunctions he will not be able to survive so long. Watch the smaller direct seeded tree takeover and win after a few years.
Because of their intact and extensive root system, a direct seeded tree is stronger, but note that a transplanted seedling will also make a more vigorous tree than one propagated by other ways. Transplantation is sometimes the only way to establish an orchard when weed pressure is very high. The trick is to soak the bare roots in a mix of water, clay and a little compost. The clay will keep sun's rays from hurting the roots. In general plants transplanted with that root coating survive much better. Transplant the seedling early in is life as younger ones adapt better.
Very cheap to plant and easy to maintain.
Direct seeding is the cheapest method to start a tree. Seedlings are able to take care of themselves most of the time. That's means little or no irrigation, very little pruning and very little fertilizer. For the same price it may be been much better to sow one hundred trees instead of transplanting just one.
Seedling orchard can have fast return on investment. Fruits are not the only thing you grow in your orchard garden. Herbs, flowers and vegetables are possible. Think of all the perennials that can fit in a young orchard or a new hedge.
There are some interesting land development project where the entrepreneurs prepare about twenty to forty acres of land in a beautifully landscaped high quality fruits orchards that demand very little work once started. «Clés en main» concepts including buildings.
Good seeds are relatively easy to find.
It is possible to have great success with the seeds of many traditional breeds of fruits and nuts usually found in markets. We need to select trees, for that we use many seeds to make one tree. It does not take a lot of seeds. For example for a single apple tree you should need no more than 10 pips (of the good breed). For some plums nearly every kernel will give a good tree. In general it is best to use a maximum of seeds. It leave more room to select trees that best fit us.
Selected seedlings fruits nearly as fast as transplanted and grafted trees.
Early fruiting is genetic. For apples parents that shows tendency to fruit early when grafted and transplanted will also produce seeds (pips) having tendency for fruiting faster.
HISTORY
Direct seeding of fruit and nut trees is an easy old method that works. Did you know that in the early American colonies many peoples planted fruits and nut trees from seed because they believed God forbidden them to fuss with his purposes by grafting trees? For sure grafting makes havoc in natural sap flow, as does pruning and transplanting. So no grafting and transplanting was used. A lot of the apples went to cider or to feed pigs and poultry. Too bad so many cider apple trees have been cut during the alcohol prohibition years in the States. In the U.S. at the start of the colony to until 1800, large orchards where made by planting nuts, fruits, vegetables and herbs seeds together in the same field. There as been very large seed grown orchards in the States, but also nearly everywhere else civilization attained sufficient development. Nuts, apricots and plums where very popular because they seem to nearly always give good tasting fruits. Since grafting was forbidden in many community of the early U.S., much everything must have been seeded then from cherry to apples, currants to strawberries, etc. A farmer would wander in his newly cleared and still smoking lot, a rake and a bag of seeds, pips, nuts, pits, kernels, nuts with him. You would not believe how fast these peoples worked. With the rake they swiftly cleared a small spot, then throwing a handful of seeds (it can be a mix of compost and seeds by the way) and in one stroke, very rapidly they covered them seeds under a thin layer of soil. Moving swiftly to the next spot. They had to plant their seeds fast as a vigorous wild vegetation was going to invade the very hardly won new field.
Transplanting, pruning and grafting plus fertilizer and others agricultural methods explain why modern orchards are producing so heavily well. But trees treated in such ways are short lived and do not resist drought and record cold winter as well as the seedlings. Just to survive they needs heavy doses of fertilization, pruning and dangerous pesticides. In bad years they even needs irrigation. It's extremely costly to grow an orchard that way.
Direct seeded trees have deep and extensive roots, undamaged by transplantation. Transplantation hurt roots and open doors to pathogens. But even transplanted, a seedling tree is usually stronger than a grafted or cloned plant. The non transplanted seedling's central root is deep in the sub soil taping the mineral rich underground water. Opening channels for rain to penetrate soil and feed the underground water reserves instead of running on top and causing erosion. This central root is also an anchor enabling the tree to support heavy crops. Transplanted trees do not have a central root, it have been destroyed either by transplantation or by grafting over cloned roots.
Big apple orchards will be again grown from seedlings.
GENETIC
Some apple and most orange breeds seems to have what is called «the feminine dominance gene» in them. Like us, fruit and nut trees need a female and a male parent. But it's winds, bees and other insects that carries their pollen from one tree to the other. A tree is at the same time a female because it take the pollen (male element) of another tree to make it's fruits; and a male because his flowers will shed their pollen to fertilize another tree. Female dominance is the fact that whatever the male parent, tree seedlings grown from the seeds (pips, nuts, kernels) of these dominator breeds will usually show a lot more characters coming from the female parent. For some oranges breeds, two third of the seedlings can be totally (100%) identical genetically to the mother tree.
''The main reasons that orange seed are not used is because the length of citrus seedling juveniles (non-productiveness) can be 7 years or longer. However, if you plant an orange seed, you should know that citrus seed have the unusual characteristic of producing nucellar seedlings which are vegetative (identical to the mother-tree) rather than genetic in origin. From each seed planted, three sprouts can emerge. Two will be fast growing sprouts which are vegetative in nature and will produce a tree exactly like the one from which the fruit was obtained. The center, weak sprout, if it emerges, is the genetic or different-than-its-parent growth which should be removed.''
Growing a beautiful productive tree is not difficult but you need a lot of luck to find one superior to what is already propagated by grafting. The Golden Delicious apple is a perfect example. Its one of the best apple to use to direct seed apple pips. This apple was probably the fruit of a horse as is the Mac Intosh and so many others. Growing from seed a new apple breed as good as the Golden Delicious is a probability of less than one in millions. What? It's still more than lotto! At least you win each time you grow one tree. If you are lucky, do you know how much is worth a good new apple tree? The first original Golden Delicious was sold for so many millions dollars, that it was enclosed in a cage.
CALENDAR
O.K. It takes a lot of time to grow nut or fruit tree from seeds. That's one of the reasons we select vigorous seedlings and thin the others; vigorous seedlings fruit faster. With good selection fruiting will happen nearly as fast as if using transplanted trees.
Small fruits are faster. Three years for currants, raspberries or blackberries. It can take only two years if the soil is very fertile. Lots of oranges, apple and most plum and cherry breeds will fruit five or six years after planting depending on breeds. Nuts are terrible, they can take twenty years to set their first nut and forty year for producing a sizable crop. But in the meantime they produce magnificent fast growing shade trees.
METHOD
I prefer to use the old and proved system of hill planting. Up to 30 to 50 seeds are planted in a freshly weeded spot. Thinning began the second year even when you use very high density seeding rates because winter make the first thinning. If you give 6 square inches per apple pips, you will need 2 square foot of seeding surface for 50 seeds and you will not need to thin the first season.
It's easy to grow a productive tree from seeds and get lots of good tasting fruits or nuts. It can be done successfully with many traditional market fruits. It takes only 20 minutes a year per tree. With lots of seeds, good weeding, thinning, a little fertilizer and rain, productive trees can be easily grown. Contrary to popular belief it does not take millions of seeds (pips, kernel or nut) to grow a productive tree with good tasting fruits.
The whole idea is about sowing the largest number of pips, nuts or kernels, and to gradually thin them. The seeds are planted directly on the spot where the tree is going to grow his whole life. In each spot we can put more than one seed. We will keep only the one best seedling in each spots over a five years period. Selection really has to be made gradually because the best seedling the first year will not always be the best after a couple of winters. We make many spots in the location we want a mature tree. In the beginning what we want is the largest possible number of young trees fruiting as fast as possible. When fruiting begins further selections are made by pruning and girdling the less desirables trees to make room for the best ones. To make room, we girdle the bark of unwanted trees a few years before definitively cutting them. It's stop the flow of sap manufactured by the leaves from going to the roots. It's all diverted to the fruits. That's kills the less desirable trees slowly so the good one can continue growing undamaged with all the space and sun they need. We then get mature trees that have never been transplanted or pruned. An apple pip have a very complex and mixed ancestry. He can grow naturally in so many shapes. Some of these naturally inherited tree shapes are more productive and easier to grow. Selection focus on fruit quality, but the whole architecture of the tree has to be considered to get big production.
It's like the way grandpa grew melons and is also similar to the way Indians (the ones with feathers) where growing pecans. Horses also are very goods at growing beautiful apples trees. Ideally you would use well fertilized small mounds of earth (hills),placed six feet by six feet or more in each ways. In each hills plant ten to thirty apple pips or some pecan nuts late in the fall or very very early in spring. Many small young trees will sprout very early next spring. Tree seeds have to spend some time in cold temperatures to crack them into germinating. Gradually thin out the young seedlings so that at the end of summer there is a maximum of six small trees in each hills. Winter will take it's toll. The best seedlings of the first summer are not necessarily those that will be best the second or third years. That's why it's so important to thin gradually. A smaller plant may just be one that germinated later. There can be one month between the emergence of apple seeds. Nature do not put all her eggs in the same basket. To make apples pips escape predators (insects, molds, etc), nature dispatch their germination over a period of time.
It do not take that much nuts, pips and kernels to have enough material to properly select. It takes about 10 pips of a good breed of apple to make a vigorous apple tree producing lots of beautiful and good tasting fruits. That much less than what is usually said. To be sure to have big apples it would take 200 seeds approximatively. This could be done by planting 10 hills (like melons) of 20 pips each. The first summer we will thin each hills to 5-6 seedlings, more or less. After five years we should have a young fruiting tree in each hill. These hills are placed closely, so to get mature trees enough room to attain maturity we have to continue thinning. The aim is to prune only the trees that we want to thin. The others are girdled or pruned to make room for the best ones.
Ideally the tree is directly seeded
It is better not to transplant and to seed directly in the definitive place where the�tree is going to grow and fruit. This make large and deep roots. Much better roots than transplanted trees. Deeper roots are better for bringing water and minerals from deeper soil strata. Trees bring nutrients from the underground to the surface where these nutrients can then be used by smaller rooted plants. The leaves from the trees fall to the ground to be made into compost by mushrooms and microscopic insects and worms. Mushrooms are a vital part of an healthy ecosystem.
It needs a little fertilization
Directly seeded trees should be able to grow without or with little fertilization. Fertilization definitively help get better fruit quality and size.
Thinning
Plant a little thickly, then thin the less perfects seedlings and by all means leave alone the perfects ones. Thinning young tree seedlings is easy and fast. It can be done while weeding. Always leave the strongest seedlings alone.
Some weeding
The seedlings needs sun and air. But not too much.
Nearly no pruning of the best trees
They will grow and fruit faster. Prune only to repair damaged tree or control tree height. A good apple seedling should not need pruning for the first 10-15 years. The first fruit is on new wood, each time you cut to older wood, it hampers the young seedling's ability to fruit as fast as possible. A tree that is not pruned or transplanted will grow faster and be more healthy and productive and long lived.
These orchards to be functional need to be set in a Permaculture type of setting.
Productivity will augment exponentially with time. Herbs like mint, basil and summer�savory will give a fast return on investment. Herbs like garlic, lovage and chicory will give medium term return. Etc.
We need an agricultural genetic database.
Informations about the best fruits and nuts for fast fruiting. Some fruits an nuts species are much more stable genetically, thus easier and more predictable to grow. With these stable species one can use much less seeds to grow a good productive and long lived tree. It is also very feasible to use some ordinary market fruits with good success.
In order to have good seeds to plant, it would be possible to implement very efficient totally natural apple seed breeding by bees and other insects in an orchard made with proper breeds of fruits.
We could then produce large quantities of dwarf to giants breeds at will, and even choose the color of the flower and the fruit flavor. Even small trees seem perfect for fruiting hedges.
What do I want to do
1.Make an ecological web site. An online magazine maybe. With lots of pictures, animation, sounds, videos, art, and a Permaculture database. Why not a web radio also! A place for new solutions, concepts, ideas and inventions, and history. Learn how our ancestors lived, wild foods they used, how the animals are related to their environment and how each of them shape it. Sort of an architectural view of our living planet and how it's work. Where one can look at all kind of machines for gardening and farming, seed catalogs, travel to distant tropical plantations or go tour an Amish farm, learn about massage, gardening, farming, bonsai, compost, mushrooms, etc.
2.Sell ads in that webzine and find sponsors for it, or a job. All of that.
3.Publish my book about Natural Orchards.
4.And maybe farm some land.
THANKS
To set up that natural gardening and farming method I gathered information from peoples growing and selecting seedlings for government and private companies, and consulted many diluted scientific sources in university libraries but I have a special thank for my three best professors: the horses that have planted so many apples (some of them so good that we still grown them commercially today, grafted for hundreds of years), the bears for blackberries, cherries and salsaparilla, and gorillas for tropical fruits and edible flowers. Its funny to see how gorillas and horses are ables over time to build ecosystems full of fantastic tasting nutritious wild fruits, nuts, aromatic sprouts, leafs, roots, barks, mushroom and edibles flowers. Such places are as rare as gorillas these days. If we where gorillas, with the help of the horses, the planet would be covered with a lush and rich nutritious vegetation. Everything from seeds. My own long farming experience just confirmed these findings.
Also all the Tribes for planting pecan trees and other useful plants everywhere they went. I also have been been inspired by the the book «Natural way of Farming» by Masanobu Fukuoka, and the work of Jean Marie Lepinasse, two scientists that have inspired so many changes in the way we now grow orchards and food all over the world. Other inspiration sources has been the work of breeders of long time like Burbank, Mitchourine and Hansen among others.
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©Sylvain Picker 2005 THE GORILLA GARDENER sylvainpicker@hotmail.com

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