|Updated Master Plan, January 2015|
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The mostly sunny location is down the middle of our front pasture, which is about an acre in size. Awhile back we decided it should be subdivided. Previous Master Plans show a possible pond in the middle here, which is not on this newest version. (It may reappear in a future plan, who knows?) A curving line of trees, our blueberry bush, and a nearly goat-demolished wild rose bush already live there. This makes the perfect place to plant our hedgerow. It's a straight double red line on the Master Plan (red to indicate planned project), but we plan to follow the curving treeline when we install the fence.
The shady location is between the buck and doe pastures. It will get some morning sun. The goats have eaten down everything in that spot anyway, so it seems like a logical place for the first shade garden. To start, it will only require a second fence of cattle panels alongside the existing fence.
Once the hedgerow locations were decided, the next step was to make a list of possible plants. The criteria is that they must do well in our location and climate, and that they must be edible by our livestock (the goats are of particular concern). There are several good websites for lists of permaculture plants (a few are below), but for something like this I prefer a real, hard copy book, so I got out Edible Forests Gardens by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier. Volume 1 Appendix One has "Forest Gardening's "Top 100' Species", an invaluable list. Appendix 1 to Volume 2 is a comprehensive table entitled "Plant Species Matrix", listing everything a forest gardener or permaculturist needs to know about hundreds of plants.
One of my concerns is hardiness zone. Hardiness zone maps show low temperature tolerances for various plants, but make no mention of heat tolerance. I'm in zone 7, but we can have some doozy temperatures in summer, easily topping 100° F / 37.8° C for days at a time. I've learned that some plants rated for zone 7 actually cannot tolerate our summer heat, rhubarb, for example. In making my list I also referred to websites and my nursery catalogs, and chose plants listed for zone 6 or lower, plus 8 or higher, especially if the description included heat or drought tolerant.
To check for edibility for our goats, I stumbled across a really great searchable database, "Guide To Poisonous Plants," hosted by Colorado State University. Another great list is at Cornell University's website, "Toxic Plants and the Common Caprine". I like these two sites because they explain why certain plants are a problem for goats (or other livestock). Some plants can be safe under some conditions but not others. Sometimes it's a particular species within a genus that is the problem, not the entire genus. I like those bits of information.
I only used three layers for my lists, rather than the seven or nine usually listed on permaculture sites. It was just simpler that way and avoided overlapping entries. These are preliminary possibilities. We'll do the actual choosing later.
- Already have white oaks, Quercus alba and lots of acorns, which the goats and pigs love. In addition these are dynamic accumulators and a coppice species.
- Mulberry, Morus species. Zones 4 - 9. Berries and leaves edible, bark and roots medicinal, coppice species. Can be self-pollinating, or not, but cross-pollination recommended. Stark Bros. carries a self-pollinating Pakistan mulberry stated to be tolerant of heat, drought, humidity, sun, and poor soil; suitable for zones 6 - 10
- Asian persimmon, Diospyros kaki. Zones 6 - 9. Edible fruit, medicinal bark, nectary. Some self-fertile varieties. (We have a mature American persimmon Diospyros virginiana in the woods but Dan isn't too impressed with it. D. virginiana is said to make a good coppice tree.)
- Chestnut, Castanea species. (Not horse or buckeye chestnut, Aesculus species, which are toxic). Zones 4 - 8. Edible nuts, coppice and windbreak plant. Need two for pollination. The variety "Colossal" is said to be blight resistant with high yield.
- Pawpaw, Asimina triloba. Zones 4 - 8. Edible fruits, bark is a natural insecticide. Need two for pollination. Stark Bros. has several heat tolerant varieties.
- Hazelnuts, Corylus species. Zones 4 - 8. Edible nuts, nectary plant, bark medicinal, windbreak. I have two of these (American hazelnuts) I can transplant. They aren't really thriving in their original spot. Need two, have two.
- Cornelian cherry, Cornus mas (not prunus spp). Zones 4 - 8. Edible fruit, medicinal, nectary, dye plant (bark). Two best for good production.
- Sumac, Rhus species, not Toxicodendron vernix (poison sumac). Zones 3 - 8. Tea or "lemonade" from fruits, medicinal bark and berries, dye and mordant plant. Goats eat the leaves. I have some of these I can transplant too.
- Blueberry, Vaccinium spp, I already have one which I believe to be V. ashei, rabbiteye blueberry. Edible berries, medicinal. Leaves edible by goats.
- Rose, Rosa, I have one of these too, what I call a "wild rose". Hips for tea or medicinal. Leaves edible by goats.
- Honeyberry (edible honeysuckle), Lonicera caerulea. Zones 3 - 8. Edible berries, nectar plant. Need two for pollination
- Wolfberry (Goji), Lycium barbarum, edible fruits and leaves, nectar plant. Self-fertile.
- Aronia or chokeberry. Aronia melanocarpa not Prunus virginiana, which is choke cherry (and toxic to goats). Zones 3 - 8. Edible fruit when cooked, wildlife shelter. Drought tolerant. Self-pollinating.
- Jostaberry, Ribes nigrum x uva-crispa. Zones 3-8. Edible fruits, nectary plant. Self-fruitful.
- Sea berry or Sea Buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides, Zones 3 - 8, edible fruit, nitrogen fixing, dye plant, medicinal. Need both male and female plants.
- Thornless loganberry, Rubus × loganobaccus, Zones 6 - 10, edible fruit, leaves goat edible. Heat tolerant, self-pollinating
- Hardy Kiwi, Actinidia spp. Edible fruit, medicinal. The variety Issai is said to be heat tolerant and self-pollinating, zones 5-9.
- Sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, annual, but apparently perennial in zones 9 - 12. Edible tubers, goats love the vines, medicinal, nectary plant.
- Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, Zones 6 - 11, but my original rosemary plant froze out during the winter of 2013 - 2014. Culinary, tea plant, medicinal, drought resistant. Source of B1, B6, C, folate, iron, and calcium
- Comfrey, have Russian, Bocking #4, Symphytum peregrinum. Zones 6 - 8. Dynamic accumulator, medicinal, nectary. Source of protein, calcium, iron, and B12. This strain is sterile.
- Good King Henry, Chenopodium bonus-henricus, zones 3-9. Aerial parts edible, dye plant, medicinal. Self-pollinating.
- Horeseradish, Amoracia rusticana, zones 2 - 10, roots and leaves edible, nectary plant, and aromatic pest confuser. I have some of this, a hybrid variety that I can transplant. Source of sulfur and copper.
- Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica, Zone 4 - 8, Edible leaves, dynamic accumulator, medicinal, dye plant. Source of iron, and potassium.
- Oregano, Origanum vulgare, Zones 4 - 10. Culinary, nectary, tea plant, medicinal. Another one I can transplant. Source of vitamin A, B6, E, K, beta carotene, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, calcium
- Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, Zones 3 - 8, culinary, edible fruit and leaves, tea plant, nectary, dynamic accumulator, medicinal. Drought tolerant once established.
- Yarrow, Achillea species, Zones 2 - 10, medicinal, aromatic pest confuser, dynamic accumulator, dye plant. I have a lot of this and can transplant. Source of copper.
- Dwarf blueberries, Vaccinium, Creeping blueberry is zones 6 - 9. Edible fruit (and leaves for the goats).
- Thyme, Thymus vulgaris, Zoners 4 - 10. Culinary, tea plant, medicinal, natural wormer. Source of vitamins A, B1, folate, C, K, beta carotene, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc, calcium
That's my list at present. I'll work out a more specific planting plan soon.
For those who would like some internet resources for permaculture plants:
For a list of vitamins and minerals in plants:
Again, for the poisonous plant websites:
Next ... A Start on the Forest Garden Hedgerow