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Reforestation – Part 2

Wait, part 2? Where is part 1 then? Well, that’s in the making… 😉 Part 1 happened a while back (our first real project when moving to Greece). However, we did not blog and or document back then. It’s important though because it was so rich in lessons learned (read ‘failures’ 😉 ) for us, that I will definitely share soon.

The WHY

For those who know us a bit better or have been following us for a while, it is probably obvious that we are not ‘in this’ for economic reasons. We believe that restoration is needed all over the world and having enough space we even think it is our responsibility to do our part. To provide habitat, to provide food (especially for birds and bees), to increase diversity, to regenerate soil and last but not least for us: as yet another place where we can reconnect with nature, involve our daughter into the creation of a mini forest, to source seeds and prunings for propagation and also go foraging.

The WHERE

The truth is, we were ‘stealing’ this bit of land from our donkey pasture 🙁 However, it is shaped in a way that it hardly minimizes their running space and since we are taking them much more often for walks and hikes lately, we think the payoff is justified.

Just like most of the paddock, this section is placed on the lowest edge of our property, in the south. It is accessible via a field path and bordered by an olive orchard on one side and a neglected field on the other side.

The HOW

Without giving away too much of the lessons learned from “Reforestation Part 1”: we decided to go for electrical fencing this time. We got it installed and ‘tested’ (i.e. placed delicacies for the donkey on the other side that was to be planted. It worked 😉 The donkeys were so afraid that we slowly had to trick them into the area near the fence.

Also, we decided that we are not going to torture ourselves again, trying to dig big planting wholes into our stony heavy clay soil. A small excavator was hired to do the job.

The plants were mainly sourced from the nursery of the Balkan Ecology Project. We’ve been following them for a long time because the work they do and how diligently they document all trials, results, plant profiles on their website is awesome! It was our way to support them. To be honest, it was also our best bet for getting plants that come from an organic permaculture nursery (if you know any in Greece please let us know!) and that were raised in a climate similar to ours. They are a 3 hour drive away from us in the Bulgarian side of the mountains.

Before planting in December (at the earliest that the plants could get delivered and a great time for planting in our climate) we worked out the plan. Reading through the plant profiles, their preferences/nogos, sorting by plant companions etc.

We tried to incorporate as many tips on tree planting from all the various books we read, people we follow etc., mainly mulching and covercropping.

The WHAT

Our selection was based on the attempt to provide food for bees, plant pioneer species, nitrogen fixers, hedging/wind shelter, biomass on all layers and a couple of plants that are easy to propagate (or sow from seed) for future expansions.

You can find great detailed plant profiles for all of the below on the ‘Bionursery‘ page from the Balkan Ecology Project:

  1. Autumn Olive – Elaeagnus umbellata

  2. Black Chokeberry – Aronia melanocarpa cv.

  3. Black Locust – Robinia pseudoacacia

  4. Blackberry- Rubus fruticosus ‘Thornfree’

  5. Broom – Cytisus scoparius ‘Luna’

  6. Chocolate Vine – Akebia quinata

  7. Corylus avellana – Hazelnut

  8. Elderberry – Sambucus nigra

  9. Fuzzy Kiwifruit

  10. Ginkgo biloba

  11. Golden Rain Tree – Koelreuteria paniculata

  12. Hardy Kiwi – Actinidia arguta ‘Issai’

  13. Honey Locust – Gleditsia triacanthos

  14. Indian Bean Tree – Catalpa bignonioides

  15. Italian Alder

  16. Japanese Pepper Tree – Zanthoxylum piperitum

  17. Japanese Quince – Chaenomeles speciosa

  18. Korean Bee Tree- Tetradium danielii

  19. Oregon Grape

  20. Privet – Ligustrum vulgare

  21. Siberian Pea Tree – Caragana arborescens

  22. Sloe – Prunus spinosa

  23. Small leaved Lime – Tilia cordata

  24. Sour Cherry

  25. Strawberry – Fragaria x ananassa

  26. Sweet Chestnut – Castanea sativa

  27. Szechuan Pepper – Zanthoxylum simulans

The first results

The best ratio ever of newly added plants (and we added many…)! They all pushed lovely healthy fresh leaves out now that spring has really kicked in!

And also, thanks to more mulching, we were actually able to detect every single plant 😉 In previous attempts we missed out on many because they were badly overgrown…

The real challenge is yet to come though: our super hot and dry summers. This time though, my amazingly talented (and slightly geeky) husband has installed a raspberry-controlled watering system with electrical walves. Regular watering during the night is a dream come true!

Will update on all reforestation areas in autumn – please have your fingers crossed for our baby trees!

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