July Musings in an Urban Oasis

Mid-summer in the Southeastern Appalachians of Western North Carolina: Barefoot Gardens and Orchards (in east Asheville) are many shades of plush green and hoped for promise. (Much attention and work precedes and weaves throughout the hope)!

Successful Grafts onto European Pear

With our orchard beginnings 22 years ago, we learn more and more each season.   For instance… everyone loves fruit.

Successful Apple Graft

Everyone! Two-leggeds, four-leggeds, winged ones, and others. For example, we have avian dynasties that go back to the late 90’s: in particular, Catbirds, Brown Thrashers, and Robins. All are prodigious fruit eaters. Each spring they return, start building nests, and proceed to raise up to three successful nestings. They know that all of the fruit belongs to them:

I’ve attempted to tell them that the fruit is not wild, and, in truth, is well attended, yet thus far, they pretend to not understand H. sapiens sounds.

Early Blossoms, Semi-Late Snow

These three are joined by other bird varieties, and most (almost all) of the small fruit (cherries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, wineberries, goumi’s, blackberries, mulberries, serviceberries, blueberries, grapes, and elderberries) are bird-consumed.

Unless, of course, we cover specific fruit with bird netting. And we do this some, mostly on the blueberries, and sometimes on the cherries and grapes.

And then, as if to rub it in our faces, they begin to peck and feed upon the larger fruit: peaches, pears (Asian and European), and apples.

It’s a stiff yearly tax we pay, to grow abundance in an urban oasis.

Bear Scat, under Apple Tree

And, of course, this is the challenge of just the feathered ones! Alongside, in order of severity,  are insects, squirrels, voles (underground-dwelling, root eating rodents), bears, and woodchucks.

Handsome, Healthy Youngster

Handsome, Healthy Youngster

It is difficult to grow fruit organically in the southeast, due to high humidity, and it’s resultant disease issues. With the selection of specific resistant varieties, along with various cultural practices, we are able to lessen the disease issues.

What we have little control over, are the issues in the first paragraphs of this article: namely, producing such lush abundance in a semi-forested, urban environment.

Turmeric as Annual Crop

In Permaculture, we teach, that in Nature, are no unfilled niches, no unused food sources. A surefire and easy way to design for complexity, is to create niches: Nature will fill them (complexity is a result).

Our Own Eggs

At Barefoot Gardens, we have created lusciously complex and productive ecosystems, including food forests, interspersed orchards and gardens, medicinal and culinary herbs, honeybees, chickens, zone 5 wild space, as well as home economies of pottery studio and kilns, and Shaker-style broom making space.

Eureka Asian Persimmons

In spite of the fairly extensive fruit predation, we do harvest and consume some berries, pears (Asian and European), several varieties of apple, Asian  and American Persimmon, Paw-paw, some native Hazel nuts and Black Walnuts (not to mention summer garden foods).

Bill Mollison said “if you have fruit, you have friends”.

Welcoming the Day, at Garden Center

In spite of all the natural fruit predation, we do have fruit, and friends as well. And yet, at times I wonder… if we had more fruit to share with our fellow two-leggeds… would we have also an enhanced, super abundance of good and loving friends?… Plenty enough to share with others?…

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About goodheart

Education: Warren Wilson College (BA Environmental Studies) 1987: University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (MSc. Natural Resources) 2005 Permaculture Design Certificate (The Farm, TN) 1994 Presidential Volunteer Award: 2005, 2006, 2007 Experiences: National and international Permaculture teacher and practitioner since 1995; Sustainable land use and permaculture consultant; International consultant for small plot sustainable agriultural projects; Home orchard consultant; Endangered species observer for sea-turtle and whale projects; Field biologist and naturalist; Gourmet natural food chef and teacher; Home baker (artisan breads) brewer & fermenter; Home orchardist; BeeKeeper; Ecological gardener; Broom-maker in the Southern Highland Craft Guild, and general bio-philiac...
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