In October/November we made a big tree seed order and collected masses of tree and shrub seeds on a trip to the UK.
We built a large cold frame and put all the seeds in,either in pots or sand filled poly bags, for them to stratify during the winter.
The germination rate has been excellent, many have already been potted up and every week we are getting more.We plan to cosset all these seedlings, in the frame, and hope that by doing so we will have much larger sturdier trees ready to put out next autumn.
December was tree planting time for us and with the help of some volunteers we planted up an area of sweet chestnuts whic we had sown from seed the previous year.They were planted quite closely and we hope in time to coppice some and leave the others to grow on for the nuts.
Lots of oaks were planted on the hillside, that we lost to fire in 2005, and many other trees that we had grown from seed or removed as suckers from the parents were dotted around the farm.
At the moment we are snowed under with work and other committments,but it's still early in the year and we have high hopes that everything we want to do will be achieved.
In November, inspired by the Geoff Lawton food forest DVD, we decided to plant up a terrace that already had a good framework of low canopy trees.We started by sowing a thick layer of lupins which were grown for the 'chop and drop' method of mulching plus of course the added benefit of their nitrogen fixing ability at the root level. In between these, and the trees, we have been planting lower shrub layer bushes and small trees.
We like the idea of planting everything really thickly to quickly establish shade and coolness at the root level and to provide a lot of green mulch/compost in situ. Getting enough mulch is alays a problem and this method neatly supplies the solution without having to carry large amounts any distance. Later on the plants and trees can be thinned to provide the right spacing.