This year is the third year of our five year tree planting plan here at Permaculture Eden, with this years planting done we have now added 11000 trees to our 5 hectare landscape. There are many reasons for the tree planting not least is the division of our land in to smaller parcels, when we arrived the land was split in to just three large parcels with two very overgrown hedges separating them. We are moving towards 32 much smaller parcels all separated with hedgerows with large trees at appropriate distances to allow enough light penetration for the hedge to grow well.
The list below is this years purchase list from Fairplant in Holland, I would highly recommend them to anyone thinking about purchasing large quantities of plants.
20 Acer campestre (Field Maple)
200 Alnus cordata (Italian Alder)
100 Alnus incana (Grey Alder)
30 Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
10 Betula papyrifera (paper birch)
100 Castanea sativa (Sweat Chestnut)
30 Corylus avellana (Hazel)
20 Corylus colurna (Hazel)
3.000 Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn)
20 Fagus syl. ‘Atropunicea’ (Beech)
30 Hippophae rhamnoides (common sea-buckthorn)
50 Malus s. ‘Bittenfelder’ (Cider Apple)
50 Pyrus com. ‘Kirchensaller’ (Wild Pear)
10 Quercus cerris (Oak)
10 Quercus palustris (Oak)
10 Quercus petraea (Oak)
10 Quercus rubra (Oak)
100 Viburnum opulus (guelder rose, crampbark)
20 Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine)
50 Malus d. ‘M 9’ (apple root stock)
50 Malus d. ‘MM 106’ (apple root stock)
The main hedge species is Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn) this is a fast growing thorny plant which makes good dense stock-proof barriers after four or five years of growth. The third or fourth year after planting they will have reached about two metres in height, at this point all the smaller trees and shrubs will be laid leaving the larger trees to continue their normal growth pattern. This year Fairplant only had larger 50/60cm plants to offer us at 15 centimes per plant in subsequent years we will be purchasing the larger plants, the previous two years we purchased 30/40cm plants at 10 centimes per plant the 5 centime difference is well worth the investment. Here are a couple of pictures of this years plantings
The Alnus (Italian Alder and Grey Alder) are added to the hedge as support plants, as in relation to soil microbes they fix nitrogen. The cows and sheep like to eat the “Italian alder” making it a great supplement to the fodder for the livestock, the eating of the plants foliage also encourages the trees to self trim their roots dropping the nitrogen nodules to the soil making nitrogen available to the other plants near by including the grasses.
The Castanea sativa (Sweat Chestnut) is added for its foliage as livestock fodder and its nut production, which is prolific is this area of France. The nuts are an incredible source of nourishment throughout autumn and in to winter for humans and livestock alike. The nuts can also be pealed and preserved in jars for several years once sterilized. Not forgetting the nuts are also a valuable source of food for wildlife, and flowers are a wonderful source of pollen for all bees including ours.
The Malus s. ‘Bittenfelder’ (Cider Apple) is added specifically for its proliferation of fruit as a mature tree it will stand twelve meters high and produce more than four hundred kilos of apples to be eaten as windfalls for the livestock or collected and transformed in to cider and apple cider vinegar.
The Pyrus com. ‘Kirchensaller’ (Wild Pear) is added specifically for its proliferation of fruit as a mature tree it will stand twelve meters high and can produce up to four hundred kilos of pears to be eaten as windfalls for the livestock or collected and transformed in to cider or juice.
The Corylus avellana and colurna (Hazel) these are added for their nuts, both varieties produce large commercial size nuts and once mature each tree could produce ten or more kilos of nuts per tree per year. While we fully expect to share these with both livestock and wildlife we should be able to use some of the productivity as a cash crop.
The Quercus cerris, palustris, petraea and rubra (Oak) are all added for both their foliage and nuts as livestock fodder, their nuts will also be collected to be fed to pigs. The nuts can also be processed for human consumption and are also a good source of wildlife food. We have chosen several varieties for both bio-diversity and interest as each one shows different autumn colour displays and the leaves of each is a different shape and shade of green, beauty is also a function of nature.
The Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) has been added for diversity and wildlife food the berries are edible for humans but in the hedges they are chosen for wildlife.
The Hippophae rhamnoides (common sea-buckthorn) has been chosen for many reasons, it will hold its own as part of the livestock barrier, it is also working with soil microbes to fix nitrogen, and it produces prolific amounts of berries for both human and wildlife consumption.
The Viburnum opulus (guelder rose, crampbark) has been chosen for many reasons, it will hold its own as part of the livestock barrier, it produces prolific amounts of berries for both human and wildlife consumption. For humans it must be cooked if you wish to eat a significant amount.
The Acer campestre (Field Maple) has been chosen for its foliage as livestock fodder, but it will not go unnoticed for its majestic presents throughout the year, its small five pointed star leaves are beautiful in their summer glory and are then a magnificent treat as they turn to a pantone of colours in the autumn, even the winter skeleton of Field Maples is somehow still beautiful.
The Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) has been chosen for more than one reason, its majestic random shape is worth its place alone but its evergreen foliage is also edible for cattle making it wonderful winter food, it is also working with soil microbes to fix nitrogen.
The Betula papyrifera (paper birch) is added for future sap production to make syrup and wine, added biodiversity and not least its year round beauty.
The Malus mm106 and m9 have been used to graft heritage varieties of apples on to the mm106 will produce trees large enough for inclusion in to the hedges and sheep paddocks.
We have also collected self seeded trees from around our site especially the forest garden and added them to the hedges including Hawthorn, Ash, Acacia, Apple seedlings, Bird cherry, Rowan and Oak
Here are a couple of images of the planting from two years ago these were planted using 30/40cm hawthorn plants which are now over a meter high and just coming in to leaf for this year.
Each of these elements within the hedge is worth its place but the hedge as a whole is worth much more than the sum of its parts. the lower hedge will slow the wind-speed at ground level all year round, helping livestock conserve their energy for meat and milk production. The hedge will cast a low shadow somewhere within each parcel all day long protecting both the livestock and the grass from the strong midday and late evening sun. The trees within the hedge will provide valuable food and large ever moving blocks of shade for the livestock and grass. The roots of all the plants will help the ingress of water in to the soil deeper and deeper each year helping to fight of summer droughts, the mechanical and chemical action of the roots will help release valuable nutrients from the rocky components of the sub soil. The body of each of these plants and trees will sequester carbon from the atmosphere, the amount of carbon sequestration will rise each end every year for the next fifty years or more. The autumn will see most of the foliage fall from the trees and shrubs to the ground in which they grow and the soil web of life will sequester the decaying bodies of the leaves in to the ground as carbon, the organic matter in the soil will rise further increasing the soils capacity to retain water. The soil life will cycle the nutrients through the myriads of creatures who live within the soil to return the nutrients within the leaf litter back to the soil in a form which the plants can reabsorb when they wake in the spring. The cycle of soil life will go on and improve every year.
The hedge will become home to many creatures as it grows providing building materials, roadways, protection, and food. These creatures will in return cycle nutrients back to their hosts, bring seed from other areas of the farm and beyond to increase diversity, eventually they will return their own bodies to the hedge so even they are reabsorbed by the hedge.
While our investment of time money and resources to buy, plant and lay these hedges is significant so are the returns. Over the years the financial investment will be paid back tens of times over in animal fodder and fruit and nuts for our consumption or to sell. The time will be repaid after the first five years movement of animals around the farm will be much quicker from one paddock to the next the cows will only need to see the first open gate to know where to go to next after milking both morning and evening. The resources used to protect the young hedges will regrow with the hedge itself except a small amount of electric wire fencing which will be a small price to pay for hundreds of years of improved productivity and carbon sequestration.