My permaculture forest farm orchard

By request, I have decided to show how I garden. One technique I use is to focus on microclimates. The first picture is in the South facing cul de sac hot asphalt side of the house. Stuff will burn up in our dry hot summers, so I planted things that like heat: figs, grapes, mulberries, quince, passionflower, palms, cactus, kiwi, bay (leaf herb), pineapple guava, asparagus, pomegranate. Then they will create shade so seedlings and other plants can grow underneath. When it’s 95 degrees out, I stand under my black mulberry tree all summer and eat the berries in the cool shade.
Wait-I’m not too good at computers


Also crepe myrtles, trifoliate orange, silverberry, and a variety of apple called “Calville Blanc D’hiver” which grows well in sun. This caveman is slowly figuring out how to post pictures.


What zone are you in?

I’m in zone 8b-9a. Our limits are more that plants die from diseases in our wet soggy winters. They only go down to 15-20 F most winters, but they are consistently wet and in our poor draining clay, many plants drown or get diseases. Also as i said, many small plants die in our hot dry 4 months of almost no rain in the summer.

Nice photos thanks for sharing.
It looks like Permaculture.
I couldn’t have that in my yard. (Although some areas get close)
We have copperhead snakes and moccasin snakes and you need a lot of room each side of paths.
They come racing out across the paths to get away from you.
Although I did have one moccasin who chased people.
He brought venom to a shotgun fight and that was the last we saw of him.

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Thanks David.We only have garter snakes. They don’t harm humans and they love to eat slugs, so not only are they cool and harmless, they’re helpful. One technique I’m using is to put this rockpile in the am sun, like 8 am, so they will want to come here and sun themselves on the heat, as they’re cold-blooded. They’ll be happy here and eat my slugs. One of my friends did this and inspired me.The picture on the bottom is right side up.


Thank you John for sharing the pictures. The sunbathing technique for beneficial snakes is very clever.

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I have a personal preference to reptiles with legs.
We try to breed these little guys as organic pest control.


You guys got way better lizards than we do! Ours are so small that they’re afraid of slugs. The slugs are bigger.

I try to plant each fruit tree by one that is not closely related. So I plant a quince next to kiwi, next to figs, next to grapes, next to a cherry tree. Pineapple guava next to mulberry next to apple, next to trifoliate orange, next to silverberry (Eleagnus ebbingei x something). There are vegetables and edible weeds and pollinating flowers in between, all in different families.

Native plants never have all the trees from the same family. Likewise here. So the microbiology on each plant is different and there is no gold mine for any pest. Any disease or bug has to go through a danger zone to set up a feeding station. Birds and positive insects like ladybugs, syrphid flies, minute pirate bugs, and lacewings will eat them. The Italian peasants always planted grapes on maple seedlings. They didn’t have microscopes, but they knew it worked. Modern industrial farmers came in and told them to plant them on plastic and metal wire, and the grapes all got diseases. What they found out was that there is a tiny mite than lives on the maple. When the bug gets on the grapes, there are already enough of these mites to eat up all the disease. The people never saw the disease. When there were no mites on the maples, the disease ate up the whole vineyard. Pretty smart for a bunch of theoretically uneducated peasants, I think.
John S


So if we had a peach orchard 4 rows of 20 trees, we should probably cut down 2 trees, leave 1 cut 2 etc.
Then fill the gaps with figs,mulberry,herbs wildfowers etc.
We wouldn’t need to spray and we could make up lost income from the fig and mulberry crops?

Hi David,
I am not telling anyone how to run their orchard. I don’t even know where you live. I am gardening for my family. I don’t run a commercial orchard on the East Coast, which is apparently extremely difficult to do organically. I apologize if you think I am telling you what to do. I get a huge portion of my food from my yard, but I don’t need to get cash income to feed my family from it. All I am doing is showing what I am doing in my climate for my family. Many of the things probably don’t apply to other people’s situations. I don’t know the markets for those crops in your area, and I don’t know if you even like to eat those fruits. I don’t know which idea will apply to which person, so if it doesn’t apply to you, I’m sorry. For example, in the South, people can grow great pecans, wonderfully tasting citrus, okra, and lots of really good melons. I am not showing that because I can’t grow those very easily here. I would love for someone to help me learn how to grow some of those things easily if it is possible here. Someone on this list got mad at me because he couldn’t see the techniques I was talking about so I showed what I was doing. I have never gardened back East. Some of these techniques may decrease the amount you have to spray, or increase the yield even if you do spray. I have learned a lot from this group, either here or at Garden Web, and I hope to continue to share and learn here in the future. I am not trying to make you mad.
John S


John this a great topic, I value your input.
I am interested in the broad theory of permaculture pest management.
Same theory should work everywhere.
You mentioned slugs, I was told slugs are a duck deficiency.
So I got ducks and they were right no slugs or snails. :grinning:

Now i need permaculture solutions to brown marmorated stink bugs, japanese beetles, oriental fruit moth, spotted wing drosophila, peach tree borers, cane borers, ambrosia beetles … I can go on but lets start with those.


I am just one guy. I’m not the spokesman for anything. I am not smarter than anyone else. I have studied permaculture. I don’t know all the solutions. Some of my solutions aren’t permaculture solutions, but if they work, I use them.

On fruit tree borers, I have used two solutions. Neither are really permaculture solutions. I also like learning from others, so chime in please.
One is aquarium cement. You get it at a pet store. It looks like a tube of toothpaste. When the tree is dry, you smear this on to cover the hole, so it’s smooth, as if it were an uninvaded tree. I did it last year and it seems to have worked. Borers in the tree die. The others can’t get in. Probably not organic, but who cares. Solved a problem, didn’t really create a new one.

Second thing I have used is actually a biodynamic solution. They apply biodynamic tree paste in the dormant winter period. It’s a combination of one part clay, one part organic horse manure, and one part is a mixture of rough sand and diotomaceous earth. It’s poisonous to insects, but you could actually eat it if you wanted. It really seemed to help my trees that have had problems with disease. It adds nutrition and sets up some microbiology that will balance the micro food web on/in the tree Most are more productive this year than any in the past 6 after applying it. They look healthier too. This one is not really a pinpoint solution to a particular problem, but more of a general fruit tree health protocol, like eating vegetables and sleeping enough for people.

On your earlier question, I think the idea is to see if you are interested in adapting the idea to your particular situation. There is an orchardist in Quebec who used this idea, as well as Mark Shepard in Wisconsin. They both make good money with permaculture orchards. They plant one cherry, one apple, one pear, etc. They just spend a lot less time on pest management. I think the Quebec guy bought an old conventional orchard and slowly moved it over. I think he replaced trees that were sick and planted herbs, flowers and vegetables, including plants that improve the soil, harbor pest killing insects and make insects uncomfortable by smell. It is of course different to chop down a productive tree and put a different one in it’s place. I understand how difficult that would be. Another possibility is to see if you could expand your block outward, so a different species could be close. Just an idea.

Some of these bugs I don’t know or don’t know the solution for but I’d love to hear what others have figured out. That’s how I’ve learned the little that I have.
JohN S

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Thanks John,

I appreciate you spending time to share these ideas.

I’ll look into the biodynamic tree paste sounds interesting.

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I really appreciate posts like this one. Thanks for sharing your setup and approach while acknowledging that all gardening is local. For me it’s all about what I can do on my own lot, I don’t need to be dialed into generalized approaches and methods. Trial new things every year to keep things fresh, but in general do your homework and plan things out. And all the while work toward building up the quality of your soil. Feed the soil that feeds your plants.

I’ve rounded the corner a little bit on permaculture myself, but leaning specifically toward Food Forest, and Living Mulch approaches around permanent plantings. I currently let weedy edibles re-seed and act as living mulches. Plants like nasturtium, chives, arugula, cilantro, and purslane work well here like this. Some ornamental plants also work out nicely such as viola, dichondra, and wildflowers.

The best bug eaters that I have are alligator lizards. Here’s one that climbed up into a peach tree:


Thanks for the pictures Mr. Clint and David. I didn’t even know that it was possible to buy the biodynamic tree paste. We apparently have alligator lizards, but are they nocturnal? They’re supposed to be native to here, but I never see them. I see lots of lizards in Southern Oregon. We always like to try to catch them as kids on vacation. I’m remembering now-David you live in Georgia, right? Where do you live, Mr. Clint?

It sounds like we do a lot of the same things, Mr. Clint. I use horsetail as a living mulch when it’s hot in the summer. Then I tear it out and use it to feed the soil. It is the highest plant in silica. I sometimes make tea out of the common horsetail (equisetum arvense). Because it is so high in minerals, when you cut it, those minerals go into your topsoil. I have started growing equisetum hyemale evergreen horsetail, because when you eat it, it builds your teeth. I already feel much less pain in my teeth from metal, sweet sour than before. We mulch every year with wood chips. We get them free from the arborists. Almost all of our trees need a more fungal microbiology in our soils. Almost all of us start with extremely bacterial soils, which are great for growing really fast weeds, that go to seed in 60 days or less. When we move them toward more fungal soils, the soil food web naturally supports fruit trees, and produces fewer weeds. Adding wood chips at the surface only and not digging in adds to that fungal life and helps to set up the mycorrhizal fungi. I also think it’s a good idea to go to a really old apple tree for example, grab a handful of dirt, and throw it under your apple trees. That will definitely help set up the mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi gets wate and other nutrients for the tree in a symbiotic relationship. As the microbiology works on the wood chips, it turns it eventually into humus, which is the magic stuff that helps the nutrition in the soil become bioavailable to the tree. It also holds onto some of the moisture to keep those processes going.
John S


I’m in z10 So Cal. The closer I can get to having a food forest the better.

Alligator lizards appear to mostly be ambush hunters. They’ll find a good hidey hole and let prey come to them. I leave places for them to hide around the lot. Keeping the outside areas bird friendly also helps with bug control.

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how i wish we had insect-eating native lizards in vegas!
but not to be upstaged, at least we have weed-eating machines :

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Those guys are cool. How great for kids! We don’t have anything like that around here. I wish we did. Yes, Mr. Clint, I think that food forests are great for decreasing water expenditures. The trees are good at using up some of the sun so it’s not so hot. We had about 99 degrees today.

I have heard recently that hugulkultur beds are really good for harboring insect eating animals. They are more known for retaining moisture. It’s a process they’ve used in E. Europe for centuries apparently. You dig a trench, put old wood in it, then layer it with soil and other things, like straw, branches, or compost in different areas. They are recommended to get up to 6 feet high. They obviously also make the soil more fungally based because fungus is what is breaking down the wood. Once they are established, say after a year or two, they are supposed to never need watering, because the wood underground acts like a sponge. They are supposed to last in temperate areas for 50 years or so. You get more surface area for your garden/farm, and each side is different. The north side is better for cool temperature plants like gooseberries, high bush blueberries and currants, and the south side is better for heat loving plants like grapes, tomatoes, figs, etc. I have some plants growing in there, but I’ve only had the hugulculture beds for a year or two. Here is a picture of mine:
You probably can’t see it too well, but it’s only about 2-3 feet tall and 3’ wide. I didn’t have that much wood. Right now it’s about 15 feet long, but some make them 100’ long. Anybody else on this list have a hugulculture bed?
John S

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John, we had one of those lizards hanging out under an abandoned rabbit hutch near our raspberries and red currants.

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