Sunday, January 29, 2017

Instant forest

I've enjoyed keeping my container plants on the verandah, over the years. My small plants, become quite big and soon graduate to larger containers. What I love most about keeping container plants for several years, is how they become an instant forest, wherever you want to keep them.

Only something happened recently, which made me have to find a new home, suitable for my container plants. Somewhere not too exposed, or too starved of light. We had to clear the verandah recently to complete a large project on it. More about that, umm...later. I don't know how much later, because it could go on for a while.

So where to place all these plants, which were mollycoddled on the verandah?

I had a big mulberry tree, over a swale. Literally, this was the only place I could think to place a verandah full of pots, which wouldn't cook them to death. The leaves will fall closer to winter, but they should hold for several more months.

Hopefully, enough time to have our verandah project finished, and I can place my plants back again.

The exterior of the mulberry however, gives very little indication of what's happening underneath...

Remember what I said about instant forest? Within the hour, I had moved quite a few pots, and some even David had to help lift. Thankfully, we had a little trolley that did most of the leg work though.

It shouldn't have surprised me, this instant garden effect. I mean, that's what container plants do! You can shift them to different places, for different effects. Pile them all together and you get a miniature jungle. But I was so in love with this new arrangement - I wasn't expecting it to look so natural.

The swale was perfect for holding all these containers. I kept a little ally in between the two rows, so I could water them, once a day. Now the weather is starting to cool however, I can probably get away with 2 days between drinks.

The container plants are loving it! They're putting on new growth and I thought it was cool under the mulberry before, but now it's a miniature forest kind of cool. The mulberry is benefiting from the new arrangement too, with the regular watering. The tree canopy, lets in dappled light and the under-story holds in any moisture it can capture.

So if that wasn't enough function stacking, in this particular guild, did I mention my little marcot experiment?

I'm hoping to get three more mulberry trees, by air layering on the branch themselves. Youtube has plenty of videos if you're curious about this method (marcot) as I was. It's pretty easy, once I had the materials together.

The birds have taken a keen interest in the shiny alfoil too. I find peck holes in the medium, and sometimes the alfoil comes away from their constant inspections.

We have success though...see the tiny root showing through the cling wrap? I really love mulberry trees, which is why I love to propagate them. If you have the space, do plant LOTS of mulberries! Or just one if you're limited. It took a few years, but I now have a nursery tree, where I can utilise the cool under-story, the mulberry creates.

Who would have thought that so much could happen under just one tree? I have a swale to help capture the moisture to hydrate the mulberry, a deciduous tree which regulates its canopy cover, according to the climate, a temporary nursery for container plants and it's also a propagating area. Oh yeah, and it also produces delicious fruit!

In permaculture it's called stacking functions, and its one of the reasons I love the design principles permaculture teaches. If you're going to use energy for growing something, try to stack as many functions in and around it, to make the energy used, more efficient. 

Do you have a tree or dedicated area, that does more than just produce one yield (ie: fruit) for you?


  1. I'm going to look up that marcot process. Thank you for the information. Moving pots for whatever reason is a full on job. I hope that the move means that the veranda project can take off. Looking forward to seeing what this is.
    Another sourdough question. Can you leave the sponge bubbling for too long. Today I was surprised by the instant bubbles that I got when I did the two bowls and fed them both. I only left the sponge 30 mins maybe and used it. The dough kneaded up so nicely, didn't have an overpowering sour smell and didn't get intensely sticky every minute or so. I now have it proving in a glass bowl, instead of the usual stainless steel bowl. I really want to make sure I catch the dough before it overproves(I don't think this is real word but I'm sure you know what I mean). This dough business is interesting stuff. I have also found that the starter likes spelt flour so much more than the Bakers flour.
    Your permaculture paradise continues to develop and show new ways of doing things.

  2. I say over proves, all the time. ;) It sounds like you're learning to read the signs in your sourdough, and experimenting, which is great! Lots of bubble action, means the sponge is actively feeding. In this case, you would speed up the sourdough making process. I find this is mandatory during summer, where the high temps are ideal for sourdough to feed quickly, on whatever food stores you give.

    I don't have a lot of experience with spelt, but the heavier flours can sometimes become too heavy for an active sponge to develop. Which is why I've heard you should keep your starter on white flour, but add the heavier flours, when you want to make a dough. I don't know how much truth there is to it, because I don't use a lot of heavy doughs - but if you find your starter gradually gets sluggish on all spelt, then alternative feed with the white flour.

    All the best with your dough. It sounds like it will be a good loaf.

  3. Moving pots around is as good as taking a holiday, in my book! How lovely to create a special little jungle in it's own micro climate. The plants are sure to thrive in there.

    1. I think they will do much better under the mulberry tree, than they did on the verandah, Sally. ;)

  4. Chris, what was that about the weather starting to cool? Not here that's for sure. We have a really old mulberry tree and a dwarf mulberry in a pot that my hubby has been intending to plant out for a couple of years. I have no idea where that is going to be. I think he was going to cut down the old one which must be nearly 40 years old.

    1. The days have still been long and hot, but those few degrees it has dropped, is so much kinder on my pots than the long string of hotter days we recently enjoyed. ;)

      Forty years! Those mulberries are incredible. They do get quite a large trunk on them as they age. We lived in a rental once, where the owner took a chainsaw to the old mulberry, next to the house. It made us a little sad. But it shouldn't have, because it was rapidly producing new shoots from that stump! It seemed to thrive MORE on that brutal treatment.

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