Here is a response I want to share from a question about how tree crop enthusiasts are keeping track of plantings and related info:
Metal tree tags on locust stakes are low-tech and work reliably. For a more advanced, digital approach, I use QGIS. It offers the benefits described in a comment above about ArcMap, but it is free and open-source software. It has a little bit of a learning curve, but it is a very powerful tool and it can interface with other geospatial technology including GPS, Google Earth, and iNaturalist. If you try this route, I recommend focusing on the following steps to begin with.
Find and download raster files (.jpg, .tif) for overhead views of your Area of Interest (AOI). These files are referred to as aerial imagery or orthoimagery, and in the U.S. you can get them from county GIS websites or from https://nationalmap.gov.
Follow a basic tutorial about raster vs. vector file types, and creating shapefiles.
Create a polygon shapefile for your AOI boundary- Create a point shapefile for your individual plants.
Add new attribute fields to your ‘plant points’ shapefile to describe characteristics you want to keep track of. Here’s some fields I use (+ examples/explanation):
species (corylus spp.),
planted_date (fall 2019),
permanent (y/n in case it is to be transplanted),
measured (y/n to indicate if its location is precise or estimated),
source (to keep track of cultivars, purchases, etc),
updated (date for when this entry was last updated, since inevitably the records can get out of date; update this every time you update any other field for this data row)
notes (misc info that doesn’t fit cleanly in other fields, try to use this sparingly as it is better to have distinct fields in case later on you want to select or analyze plants based on some attribute)
At this stage, you will have a powerful, interactive map of your AOI, with individual points or polygons to depict features of interest on your property, and those features can have a miniature (or massive) database of characteristics associated with them. You can have as many or as few fields as you’d like, and you can even associate fields (e.g. feature_ID) with other datasets, such as yield records or amendment history for an orchard block.
A basic tutorial about Coordinate Reference Systems (CRS) and about Georeferencing would be helpful to get ahead of GIS software’s more confusing aspects. Using an appropriate and consistent CRS is especially important for making accurate spatial measurements. You can also go to https://gis.stackexchange.com with questions.
A relatively unheard of N fixer that I planted this spring and am liking so far is northern bayberry. It’s a shrub that has waxy berries. The height is pretty variable according to the nursery at 3-8′. One really nice feature is that it’s semi-evergreen. It’s a deciduous shrub with larger leaves (kind of like an oak) and they turn burgundy in the fall and hang on until spring when the new growth appears. I’m using it as part of a screen from the road so that I have some privacy in the spring. The berries are good for the birds and you can make candles from them. One other name for it is “candleberry”.
Plants are people that participate in our world in wondrous, mutualistic ways. Plants serve as the foundation of our human lives, in so many ways, grown by Solar rays of a very high Source. Plants bridge us and the Sun. How can we serve plants? A mystical practice, known as a type of theurgy, is one way to empower plants to give greater gifts as they go forth in life, using the power of human mind to imagine and visualize colors and light.
Definitions of theurgy tend to be vaguely described, as hints of it seep out from the mysticism of various traditions. Definitions often include compelling or querying supernatural beings and deities. I offer this definition based on my learnings and experiences on alchemy:
Theurgy is the mental animating of matter, so to bring out more of matter’s inherent qualities and potential capacities, without imposing a state or process on the matter that is not in harmony with its nature and natural laws of cause and effect .
There could be a lot to unpack here, but I will leave that to your own inner and outer inquiries. I raise this work to share an ecological application of it. Based in imagination, it is the use of visualization and color to enliven objects with their vital three-part nature.
This post begins an exciting series in the Alchemecology project. I’m starting to post media from an agroforestry project I describe on the Willows Edge Agroforest page.
I’m exploring different image gallery options and am open to input. Please let me know suggestions or feedback in the comments below!
In those post I share photos from a workday digging small pools in Willows Edge’s wet field. Each pool was dug independently, dammed from the other pools during digging. I did this to get easy access for filling up 5gal buckets of water and to get various other benefits of small ponds in agroforest systems. Some important benefits I’m working with: soil for plantings and mounds, and improved drainage and landscape complexity for the surrounding environment. Read more to see pictures and descriptions!
Overview of some low-tech approaches to propagate thousands of trees in modular, portable forms. Young, 1-2 year old trees can be grown this way then transported & transplanted bare-root into the ground, low-cost and resilient.
Hazelnuts from my first times harvesting intensively, summer 2019, have lasted me through Jan 1. Maybe a quarter of my stash remains, still in shell stored safe and sound. I snack on hazels alone and in good company sporadically, this year being my first deep diving into staple tree foods. I look forward to incorporating these wonderfully healthy serious staple foods into my diet more in mutualism.
This bounty I’ve been snacking on is from one casual afternoon’s harvest with friends at Z’s Nutty Ridge, where I estimate I hand harvested ~2,000 nuts and kept half. I did another hazel harvest with local friends & nurserym’n one morning over the summer as well, collecting ~1,500 nuts that I’m stratifying in buckets to propagate from Dilmun Hill Organic Student Farm. I enjoyed reflecting on those harvests as I sat and had an after party hazelnut munch this Jan 1 middle of the night.
Both casual half-day harvests were some of the best days of the summer. Sure, it could get old if it was everyday work, but one thing that would not get old (or at least would help me get old) is that they were also some of the healthiest days of the summer. And here’s to health in surviving with’em: trees, gotta love’em. Thanks and peace.
I’m thankful for a good local community of agroforestry peoples, humans and trees.
A group of us gathered hazelnuts from a planting at the local university’s organic student farm. These decade-old bushes have ancestry from Badgersett Farm and Mark Shepard and are American x European hybrids, more American than European, rugged and highly productive.
After harvesting many hazelnuts, I set out to build portable-sized, modular air prune beds to propagate trees. I followed inspiration from Twisted Tree Farm and Edible Acres. I built one air prune bed before and it works but I learned a lot I’d change from the process: deeper sides, sturdier sides and no need to fuss with building handles as I had before. I also use gifted premade air prune beds for apple and pawpaw seedlings and am happy to have them!
I started by revisiting the videos by Twisted Tree & Edible Acres linked above, then drew plans out – both a helpful and recreational activity – as a loose guide for modular air prune beds. Then I gathered materials for the build.
We live at a time where there is widespread disturbance all around us. The ground is open and waiting for seeds. We can bemoan the tragedies that nature has endured or we can cast seeds and plant a future. We can and do influence the ecosystems around us more than any other species. That influence can come through reckless destruction, blind abandonment, or conscious intent.
Imagine suburban homes in good repair with lush gardens and neighbors well-known to each other. Heated comfortably with renewable energy, including coppices of trees and living fences which provide firewood, food for both wild and domestic animals including humans, along with numerous ecosystem services such as soil production, water and temperature regulation, pollution mitigation, and more.
Imagine rural landscapes which provide for themselves and broader communities, while regenerating the very sources of those provisions: tree crops which become more fruitful and productive over time; farms that grow more fertile as their surpluses are cultivated; buildings which shelter stewards of the very materials they’re made of.
A practitioner and professor of ecological restoration, S.D., helped teach me the value of imagination. Imagination and love guide us toward healthier ecosystems, and these guiding acts are a unique gift humans can offer. The work of restoration is lead by Nature and brought about by many creatures, and imagination and love can catalyze that transformation toward better ways and better days, toward regenerative landscapes and lifestyles.
Imagination is a useful tool in design, and design is an essential tool to permaculture. In this evolving posting, you can find my imagination applied to aid permaculture design: below is a work-in-progress planting pallet for retrofitting regenerative harmony back into suburban and rural homes of the northeast U.S.A.
Planting rooted mulberry medium-softwood cutting that was collected in ~Spring 2018 and grown in water, on the heat mat and under a grow light at the indoor nursery. It’s the pot on the black table in the photo below, and it’ll be moved back to the indoor nursery for the winter. Yesterday, moved any trees that remained outside in pots, bringing them into the garage for the winter or at least until I can heel them in outside ’til planting elsewhere in Spring 2019. That’s the trees huddled together in pots on the floor. The weather’s taken a rapid turn toward winter, with nighttime temperatures below 30dF a few nights in a row, and a sudden 10″ of snow in a day!
The basement is around 40% humidity and a little over 50dF. That’s with 2 heat vents opening to the room left on; heating vents could be sealed off from that room but it gets very cold, and it’s below our bedroom and has some pipes so we want to keep some warmth in there. ~55dF might be too warm for the trees, preventing them from having a proper dormancy. I’m not sure about this – comment below if you know please! I hope to heel these trees in ASAP; they’ve been in pots for so long as I only moved to this more permanent location ~1 year ago.