Wascally Wabbits Winter 2015-2016

2016-02-04 10.27.28

Everything asleep for winter.

The Food Forest looks a little bleak in the winter.

So far we have not had the extreme temperature drops like the last couple of years.  The Peach tree buds (10 trees) can’t stand temperatures below about -15 degrees F.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that the a rabbit has girdled two Golden Delicious Apple trees.  The deep snow allowed him to get above the tree protector and chew the bark all the way around 2 trees and heavily damage 2 more.  One rabbit is all it takes to ruin a fruit tree.  Three years of growth destroyed.  The trees will likely have to be replaced this spring.

Rabbit damage.

Rabbit damage.

Food Forest Project

If you are not familiar with what a Food Forest Permaculture project is you can read about them by clicking here. or here.  Some food forest have been in sustainable existence for hundreds of years in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.

I present to you My Fabulous Project in pictures:

My Food Forest Project started in the spring of 2012.  In my version this meant three levels of growth plus containers and a small solar greenhouse.  The upper level is composed of the fruit trees.  The second level is comprised of fruiting shrubs such as berries, grapes, etc.  The third or ground level has permanent perennial plants such as strawberries, asparagus , and herbs. I also include raised beds that are built at ground level in the third level.  The raised beds are planted each year with annual food crops.

This is what the space looked like in 2012:  Not real impressive.  Just some random growing boxes and small cage to keep the raccoon out.  It mostly worked…mostly.


I literally almost got killed clearing those trees in the background.   I was cutting one down and it didn’t want to fall.  I turned around for just a sec to do something and it literally dropped right next to me.  Within inches of my left ear.  I can still hear that damn thing fall.  That was the day I gave up lumber-jacking and decided I could work with the space already cleared.




This is Nicholas with his left hand on the top of one the Honey Crisp dwarf trees that had just been planted.  There are six of them closely spaced on a trellis.  The perimeter fence was a temporary fence to try to keep the rats with hooves (deer) out.  It didn’t work.  I hate deer.


The boxes in the foreground were the first two of what is now eight raised beds that get planted with annual vegetables such as tomato, pepper, eggplant, melons, etc.  This picture was in the fall of 2012.




029A better picture of the initial raised beds before the trellis was installed.  They are still in use.









043This is current as of late summer 2015.  It’s difficult to get pictures because of all the dense foliage. The two boxes with the hoops there are the same ones in the picture above. More dwarf trees have been planted.  Behind the hoops you can see the Honey crisp Dwarf apple trees along with the nectarine, and a couple of dwarf Fuji Apples.





Below are a couple of other perspectives.





















044The Plum and Peach trees grew a LOT this year.  They have basically filled in all the available space on the flat part of the orchard where the boxes are.  You can see a half wine barrel that was used to grow cantaloupe in this year.  The idea is to use all the available space in a productive manner.  Using movable containers gives more flexibility from year to year.











049Grape vines growing on the fence.  Note the line of electric fencing.  I had to run three strands around the perimeter fence to keep the deer, raccoon, possums, woodchucks and other assorted creatures out.  I still think there is a very smart Yeti who has a taste for green tomatoes lurking about.  Someday I’ll catch him.  Someday…











045 Blackberries planted as undergrowth in the upper area with the semi-dwarf apple trees.

047 046

My first attempt at a green house was a simple hoop house covered in green house plastic:

013 015 014

Looks pretty cool huh!

Then this happened:

018 021

OOPS!  Back to the drawing board.

092I built this instead.  It works great.  You will notice there are not any close up pictures.  That’s because I suck as a carpenter, stonemason, builder in general.  It isn’t square and it isn’t’ all that pretty, but it works just as expected and that works for me. Total cost for 16′ x 8′ x 8′ (more or less) about $750 and a lot of cussing.  Try buying one for that.





The GH allowed me to grow some perfect tomatoes and some very nice 20 plus pound Georgia Rattlesnake melons this summer.  Yummy.


So now you’re up to date.  Next year more of the apples should be in production.  Perhaps half of the 40 apple trees.  All 10 peach trees should produce peaches unless we have another winter with several -15 degree days like last year.  The 4 Nectarines and the 3 plums and at least 2 of the 4 pears should also be in production. That’s about 61 trees currently.  I might even have some grapes.  There are eleven grape vines.  The 16 Blackberries were just planted this year but SHOULD produce berries next year.  There are also over  100 strawberry plants in.  The strawberries did great this year (2015) and should be even more abundant next summer.

That’s it for now.  I’ll update as appropriate.