Blueberry/Berry Hedge Permaculture concept design

rusoSeptember 9, 2010

Hello, My name is Russell, this is my first post. I manage a farm in Port Angeles, Washington, age 23, and have managed to get ahead of annual work to have time and surplus money to invest in a permaculture food forest design Idea i've been bubbling over for a while now.

To begin with, I live in zone 8b i believe (-8 deg last winter in the low spots) my design is going to take place on a mild slope down to that spot.

My idea is based on the design tests I did this year. It's really hard for me to think about explaining what i want to do so just hang with me a second:

I believe all gardens need to be designed for efficient accessibility (permies say duh) so that means I will be designing my hedges around my irrigation system, which can be either driptape for linear lined boring field work, or a layout to accommodate a sprinkler. Plus maybe if I fit in enough trees near the spinkler, maybe a variety will have that tree fall vitamin reaction from being hit with a sprinkler? hell maybe if i make the hedge dense enough I can just hose down the trees to canopy the moisture in. anyways

What I am designing is in two parts, one I want to create interconnecting circular mandala gardens with sprinklers in the center with the bottom side of the circle cut off due to being on a hill (highest point is south, goes down north). Plus these circles will be held higher than the decreasing elevation of the hill by cedar stakes painted with copper and layers of material starting from the soil having 5 inches of mulch on the side that touches the cedar walling, then alder branches, then cedar wall, thereby just acting as a thick mulch layer that has all the weight leaning against it. works right? if you are worried the trees will outlast the materials holding it to the hill, my solutions are simple: either swap out the steaks next to the previous ones in 10 years, for the crossing branches, just cut more and bend them to be released once behind the bracing cedar stakes. or maybe I should just minimize how much I tamper the soil around the trees.

the plants for those would be in order to fill in every size to create a canopy, so here is my idea: In the front, depending on how much I want to really water these and how much clay is in the soil i choose, I'm thinking Strawberries and kinnikinik on the ground, raspberries in the front circle but maybe service berries to hug the tree? I thought about seaberries, but they get to big, need better deeper soil than whats there, and more sun/heat. PLUS I have learned to enjoy plants that fruit multiple times a year, so when we have wet springs like this one we don't loose all of that sector's crop.

behind the front "EDGE" plants would either be strawberry trees, edible varieties of mountain ash, or maybe paw paws but i already have those.

in the back depending on spacing I was thinking blue huckleberries, or maybe a fall yellow raspberry that will recieve more sun as it lowers below the tree branches as they will be lower down the hill too.

I have a lot of money to throw at this project,so give me ideas for plants and maybe edge hedge row design links or information. otherwise Imma just dig swale 'ditches' and redirect every inch of that hill to funnel into a planter cedar staked bed and make as efficient of a layout as possible.

just to let you know there will be an array of other plants in the ground cover mix, everything from clovers, vetch, to poppies and nasturtiums. I need ideas for low-impact vineing plants

2nd project:

The farm down the road is downsizing their blueberry crop, so im going to buy it up!

I have another hill, actually just next to the previously mentioned one, this one I would like ot tier down. is it ignorant to put blueberries on the same cedar stakes tier system, that gets roughly 85% sun. I sure have enough fire wood but was thinking about doing a string of pines in the very back next to where the forest starts. I'm a firm believer in keeping your needs close, so i plant alfalfa next to all my fields, so might as well have some pine trees jetting up next to blueberries, right? it's next to a gravel road anyways so wouldn't kill off much.

There's a lot to take in from wha ti have just typed, but here should be some good pictures of half the 'test' garden i designed, and how successful it was. to give you the details, I made the walls of eat bed by mounding up the dirt i the center, putting in cedar stakes, then with JUST alder sapling limbs, i just laid bundle ontop of bundle going from left to right laying it down opposite. This is designed to accommidate a sprinkler in 1/3 turn roughly, worked really well. I only watered the garden twice this summer yet it grew at the same rate as what i water daily in the field. I weeded it once and due to the density and clover there was only thistle and nightshade. PLUS the whole thing that made it work was clover, I put red clover in the higher back of the bed, and white in the southern front. I was finding mushrooms growing out of the bed walls in the end of july without watering it in weeks.

those are june pictures too, so everything is BEEFED up, it's nice to walk on fresh clover that falls a foot and a half, even going through my 2'5" wide paths on my belly is a mind kick.

So help a farmer out, if you have simple SHAPES for designs, or ideas on EDGES and how to MAXIMIZE the edge potential of food output, also a list of plants that thrive on the edges of thickets, LET ME KNOW. I can make anything I want and need your insight to come up with a finished project.

So thanks for your time, hope you enjoyed reading.


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Russell, Nice looking garden,sounds like you have it worked out in your head. For me it wasdifficult following how your like of thinking on where and how its going to be done but I'm sure you will work it out. I love the solar collectors on your roof wish I could do that, Some day...

    Bookmark   December 2, 2010 at 10:09AM
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Russel, what do you do for a living?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 1:45AM
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Hi. I am planning a berry patch here in Northern Virginia. Mine will have a dry stream bed with some deep gravel to let the stormwater seep in. I'm thinking currants, kiwi, amelanchier, blueberries, muscadine grapes, and elderberries, and prunus mume (for winter cheer).

I looked into alfalfa for nitrogen, but it likes alkaline and we have acid soil. Then I got overwhelmed by the whole beneficial insect planting thing. Doesn't matter, I'm not planting this year, just planning.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 11:26AM
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Like you, I wanted a berry hedge. I decided to plant them along a road shoulder, so that I could just walk along the road and pick berries without getting bitten by copperheads or rattlesnakes.
Twice, copperheads have crawled over my boots or snapped at me while I was picking berries in the fields.
The road shoulder was an ugly miux of rubble, rocks and clay, so I dumped leaves and brush over the rocky mess and made dirt. Then I planted currants, blueberries, raspberries and gooseberries, and I let wild blackberries stay.
Turns out, the red currants LIKED the ugly rocky clay mess and did not do so well in the black humus dirt I made.
All the berry plants are doing "okay", but not thriving. Also, I made three mistakes with the raspberries:

  1. I moved wild raspberries out from under a giant walnut tree because I thought they were trying to ramble their way into the sun. Later I read that raspberries LIKE being under trees, if it shades them from hot afternoon sun.
  2. I tried to weed all of the yellow coneflower (Rudbeckia lacinata) out of the raspberry patch. It turns out, they are perfect for each other. The coneflowers don't even start to grow until after the raspberries have berries. When the coneflowers bloom, honey bees go crazy, so that's a plus for them. Also, they have a marvelously strong stalk with a fork, and this FORK becomes a perfect support for the raspberry canes!
    Last fall, I broke the tops out of the dead weed stalks, and helped the raspberry canes into the forks. Right now, the canes are loaded, since I pruned them back in winter to force them to make berries instead of ramble.
  3. I moved some wild raspberries to part of the road that caught water draining down the mountain. Water stood in the road in winter, and it drowned the berries: They do not like wet feet.
    I question whether or not your servicebery will grow under the tree canopy. When I saw wild serviceberry, it was growing all alone on top of a cliff!
    I haven't heard about these irrigation ditch hedges before. Is this a common practise in permaculture? Areyou trying to imitate the seep on a cliff or something? (I read that sandstone cliffs hold water, and that's why water seeps out of the base of these cliffs. Blueberries grow on top of them here, even though they appear to be "dry" cliffs.)
    If not, why are you irrigating? Isn't that a really artificial practise? I mean, irrigation has drained the aquifers in the midwest , so why are you interested in irrigating? Are you diverting water or it there naturally?
    I guess you can tell I haven't read much about permaculture. [I read Holmgren's book, that's all.] But I am really, cincerely curious why you would irrigate and call it permaculture. It seems artificial to me, any irrigation. I don't water anything. If it won't grow where I plant it, I move it. Instead, I am tryiung to add humus to the soil to make it hold water better.
    But ifyou are trying to imitate a sandstone seep, then it makes a little sense.
    I do collect rainwater, but I keep it covered so the mice and bugs don't drown in it, and I only use it rarely.
    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 1:52AM
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