This spring saw a lot of important trees go in the ground, but the abnormal weather we had (May weather in March) fooled most everything into waking up early, with the result being that most fruiting trees got zapped by frost several times in April. Many of the trees I planted got heavily frosted and lost their leaves a few days after going in the ground, which wasn’t the start I was hoping to give them! However, most grew new leaves and are still alive. BUT, since May we’ve had drought conditions and weeks of record high temperatures, which coupled with my dry, sandy soil, mean that the trees have been really struggling (many lost leaves again and some may not live through the drought despite my watering a few times per week). Global Weirding proves that even permaculture designs are not foolproof!
Some of the trees I planted in the last couple years have died—an apricot, at least 5-6 tulip poplars, 4 korean nut pines, several birch, hazelnuts and pawpaws, etc.). These just mean those spaces are open again, so I reconsider what was growing there before and will plug in new plants as appropriate. I’d rather have more chestnuts than tulip poplars, now that i think of it. 🙂 Some of the plants I wanted this year I was unable to get or afford, but I was happy to add 3 asian pears, a couple more apples, a hybrid persimmon, a few dwarf plums, 3 kinds of seabuckthorn, 2 grafted pawpaws, a dozen or more various sweet chestnuts, a couple dozen american persimmons, half a dozen walnuts, a few pecans, 2 different goumi, 2 named elderberries and aronia, and a number of native/wildlife plants (ninebark, dogwoods, prairie wildflowers, native nitrogen-fixers, etc).
Speaking of n-fixers, my efforts on that front continue to be frustrating, I’ve not had good luck with ordering seeds online or germinating my own alder or black locust seeds. I did manage to grow a tray of Wild Indigo seedlings and will plant those out maybe in the fall or next spring, and also managed to transplant a couple of black locust suckers (2 of 5 survived) and propagate some good varieties of autumn olive from cuttings (3 of 7 survived), but I’m still wanting for Alder or locust seedlings for the canopy.
I planted a 3-layer evergreen hedge near the road, using arborvitae and 2 varieties of American Holly, but that’s not off to a good start and I may have to replant most of it next year.
I’ve also been challenged heavily by moles underground (very few predators here) and Asiatic Garden Beetles defoliating plants by night, hadn’t ever noticed them before but this year the pressure is heavy. Going out w/ a flashlight and night and hand-picking seems to be helping, but it’s a lot of work. Watering everything by hand is a huge chore, but is the only way that everything is still alive. Many full-size trees are shedding leaves. My water barrels were empty long ago, but thankfully my aunt next door allows me to get water from her hose when needed, otherwise even the toughest plants with the heaviest mulch would likely die. Hopefully once they’re better-established and there’s more shade and water cycling on the property, this will be mitigated somewhat, and I can spend more time enjoying the beauty of nature rather than cursing its many challenges.
NOTE: Didn’t take many photos of the garden this summer on account of it being so depressing.