- [Narrator] On this Volunteer Gardener, Troy Marden profiles some cold hardy succulents that you can grow indoors or out. Annette Schrader explores the concept of a food forest in this backyard permaculture garden that provides abundant food while keeping harmful insects at bay. Plus, voles can be a nuisance, eating more than 300 varieties of garden plants. Marty DeHart profiles a vole deterrent that's used during planting time. Come along. - [Annette] We are about to experience what gardening a food forest using permaculture can be achieved, and you can believe this, if Tom is doing it, it's well researched and it's gonna work. Tom it's evident that you have lots of food sources from different types of whether it's just tree, or vegetables. So, give me the beginning concept of, let's say right here at this peach tree, and how you have it built up here. What is this called? - This is actually a Santa Rosa plum, and all around it here is called a gill. - And that's... - A gill is a combination of plants that will help this tree for moisture, for keeping predators away, where in the springtime, it's how all kind of daffodils come up around it. It's different types of plants that will help this, that will hold your nitrogen fixing plants, which is like your goji berries, your gummy berries, and comfrey. - And so you don't try to make this look patterned and orderly. You try to have it as if it is growing... - It's like it's grown like if you walk out through a forest. - Thus the food forest. - That's why you want it. - Okay. - And what I'm growing is food. - All right. Now, you said you have daffodils, and they are good for those gnawing rodents. - Yeah. - They don't like those. - No, they don't. - And also I would suppose when that daffodil comes up, deer don't eat those. - No. - And will that keep them from coming to the bark of your trees? - Well, I've got that, took care of it too. For around here, here is a gooseberry. - Oh yeah. - Gooseberries has thorn on. - Oh yeah, I see those. - That will keep away most deer, anything. - Yeah, and even the asparagus foliage-- - That's right. - Has it on it. Okay. - So then you use comfrey. Now what does that do? - Comfrey is a nitrogen, brings in nitrogen. It binds potassium out of the soil. It has deep roots on it. - One of three necessary ingredients. - Just like daikon radishes, and things like that, which there's also some of those planted in here. - Okay. - But they'll come up in the spring here. - So a daikon radish is a perennial? - It can be, it's golden. Back here it is. If it's out in my other garden, it's not. - Okay. 'Cause it's protected by some of this wild, shall we say? - 'Cause here is a what's called cardoon. - Yeah, that's... I thought... - Cardoon is a cousin to... - Artichoke. - Artichoke. Yeah. - So this is actually an annual, but back here in this garden, it's a perennial. This is three years old. - Do you think you've made a little sub climate back here? - Well, that's what permaculture is all about, making different eco-climates. - Yeah. - Ecosystems and things like that, where you have so many different plants growing. - So you created these swells as if it were to stop, we do that... - It deflects rainwater. - Exactly. And it stops erosion on the hillside. - Exactly. So it's nothing new. It's been going on for thousands of years. People quit using it when it started doing a lot of logging and everything see. - So in your process of self education, you began to read about some of this, or do you just dream it up? - Sometimes it starts out as a dream. - But I read, I study, I got a library. - Yeah. - I got a little library. As they say, a good gardener will have a small house, a good library, and a garden. - Oh. - So I've got all three. - What is one of the most successful things? - Well, I think Japanese beetles. I have kept them away. I mean, you'll still have some. - Yes. - But not as bad. Used to eat my cannas up here. Leaves just be eating up with 'em. - Well, that's their host plant and if they stay over there they won't be in here! - That's right. And a lot of those are yellow cannas. Some are red, mostly yellow. Yellow's attractive to 'em. - Okay. - Plus another thing I use a lot of is the Egyptian walking onions. - Oh, I love those. - I've got a lot of 'em. I've got 'em planted around everywhere. - Now what does that do? - Japanese beetles will not come around them. I've got grape vines out here. I planted a whole lot of these, of Japanese... I mean of-- - Egyptian. - Egyptian walking onions. - Wow. - And there's no Japanese beetles on my grapes. - And I believe I saw that you have four o'clocks. - Oh yes, I got four o'clocks. I got yellow, and red, but the ones I have back here are yellow. And like the ones around the fruit tree up here. - Yeah. - There's no damage from Japanese beetles on them, or other insects. - And they bloom at night? - It's a trap plant. That's right. And they'll bloom at night. They start blooming about four o'clock in the evening, and they'll bloom all the way up into the morning. - Yeah? Well, that is quite interesting. Well, Tom, tell me why you think this is a great accomplishment? What is this? - Hardy kiwi. - Hardy kiwi. Okay. - It's not like your brown kiwis in the store. - Yes. These are a little bigger than a gooseberry. - Okay. - But they'll grow all through the winter. - So that's less than an inch? - That's right. And-- - Oh. - It takes about six years for 'em to start producing. This bud right here is right at four years, and maybe four and a half years old. - So you're getting your taste buds ready? - Yeah we are. When I Started out, this was about a foot tall, and this is what it has grown. And you gotta have a male-- - And a female. - For every five females. - Oh. So one, two. - I've got three plants. I've got one male and two females. - Okay. - And it is easy to propagate. - And you do another concept here, and I want you to show us what you call chop and drop. - All right. - Let's go. Okay, Tom, this over here is yarrow. And I once read where people would make lawns from this. So now you are using it. - I'm using it as a ground cover, and for chop and drop. - Chop and drop. - This is the native yarrow, and it will mine real deep. It has deep roots, some roots be as long as 18-24 inches. - And it does spread by runners too. Doesn't it? - It does, as you know, but mine's the deep undermine soil, and it will mine potassium and a few other. - Like the comfrey? - Iron, zinc. - Yeah. Okay. I understand that. So in the process of chop and drop, there's two different concepts there of whether it's green manure, explain the difference. - Well, chop and drop, where you just chop and drop it, as it says. - Yeah. - You use it for mulch. Mulching around your plants, your trees, create manure. You will take and chop it, and lay it down, and till it into your soil, which I don't do tilling, but I'll use a garden fork. See how thick it is. You can mow this. I mow it about once a month with a lawn mower. - Yeah. - When I'm mow, I got a catch it on my mower. I don't throw it away, I make compost out of it. You can add this to your compost bin if you have one. And it makes it work better. - Okay. - Like a comfrey will. - Before me, I have about an eight foot apple tree. Then it has an under planting underneath it. Now how are these things relating together? - Okay. The comfrey under here, can be a-- - Accumulator. - Accumulator. Nutrient accumulator because it goes so deep in the ground, pulls up potassium and everything, or I can use it for chop and drop to mulch around it, which I will do in the hot summer. You can mulch around that, you can chop and drop comfrey at least five, six times a season. It grows back fast. So that's how I use it. - Okay. So you're saying the larger the planting, the more dynamic it is for the location. - Yes. - Okay. This area here is a perfect example of the biodiversity that you're creating here with your food forest. So these final plants here, let's talk about them and how are they beneficial. Let's start with this tansy. - Okay. tansy, I like it 'cause it's a good deterrent of ants. Or if you got ant hill, you can cut off these leaves right here and lay on it, and it won't be long till they gone. - That's good to know because I had lots of those this summer. Well, Tom, you have another plant that attracts pollinators. What is this beauty? - Well, I really don't... Can't remember the name of it. - You don't have to. - Tell you the truth. But it would get taller than this. I cut it back and it will bloom more. - Yeah, and you get successive blooming. - Yes. - Exactly. And I think this grows along our wild side, along the road ways now, as we travel in Tennessee. Yes. - It's a good pollinator. - Absolutely. I see them on there. Then you also have along in this row, I believe you have some rhubarb. - Yes, I have rhubarb over there. - How long have you been growing that? - This will be the third year for it. - And it has survived our winters? - Yes. - Okay. And then you have a pear tree that is obviously clustered under. - Yes. That's an Asian pear. - My favorite. And then moving on down, you even have some asparagus. - Got asparagus bed, just a bunch asparagus and a mountain mint. - Mountain mint. Now what is it? - Mountain mint will draw pollinators 'cause it will have little white flowers on it. - Yes it does. That's right. Well and definitely the beneficial, we need those pollinators. And they're here even now. We're close to October. - You gotta have pollinators if you're gonna have food. - Exactly. - Or any kind of plant. - Exactly. But obviously what time you have put forth to gather this information and now share it with us, it is priceless, and we thank you. - I'm glad to do it. - Oh. And to walk on ground that doesn't have to be tilled or weeded, it's just wonderful. Thank you. - You're welcome. - [Troy] Hardy succulents like hens and chickens and different varieties of cactus have always has been popular garden plants. Today I am joined by Kim Daft at Lawrence and Clark Cacti Co, and we're gonna talk just a little bit about some hardy succulent options for your garden. - Yes. So everything that is set up in these pots on the table is a variety of cold hardy cactus and succulents. So this first one that we're looking at right here, this is a cholla cactus. This is a more narrow form. The needles are not friendly, so we try very hard to avoid them. But this specimen, since it's cold hardy, that just means we can leave it outside. Whether it's in a pot, or it's in the ground, it's going to survive the cold temperatures here. And what actually happens, this in particular has been outdoors here all winter, as it gets colder they get this beautiful purple tint to help protect themselves from those cold temperatures. It's a form of stressing that creates that color. - Right. - But as it warms back up, they're gonna transition back to sort of a bright green, which is the traditional cactus colors you expect to see. - Right. - But it's beautiful 'cause those little purple bits add a little pop of color to the garden in the wintertime. - In the wintertime. - Yes. - The other thing that you'll notice sometimes on these is that they get a little bit droopy in the winter. - Yeah. The Cholla cactus in particular will oftentimes, it droops a little, it might pucker a little, but come spring, they perk right back up-- - They perk back up. - Beautifully. - And that's partly because their root system has also gone dormant. - Yes. - And it's not drawing water, and it's just a safety mechanism basically. - Correct. - And you may also notice this cutting is a little bit larger. So if you look, or if you follow the stalk down from the very top, it goes from green to this brown coloring here, that's called corking. And that is just where the stem develops more of a woody exterior. - Right. - It creates more of a branch structure to help support the plant as it grows. So we often get a lot of questions about the brown on the bottom of a cactus. People worry it's sick, but it's really just doing its job. - It's really developing a trunk. - Yes. Precise, precisely. - And so how big will this get if you just plant it out in your landscape, and it's happy? - The narrow variety typically grows to about four to five feet. It'll almost get bushy looking right as it matures. - They'll branch and... - Exactly. If you wanna keep it more tapered and trunk like, you can certainly cut it back. I do it myself and you can take the clippings and put them directly in the soil. They'll root up easily. A fallen branch can develop roots from the very side of it. - Right. - And take root where it lands really. Very, very easy to propagate. - Which is actually how they move around in the wild. - Precisely. - They attach themselves to fur and skin of animals-- - Yes. - And get dropped off somewhere else-- - Correct. - And then root right where they fall. - Yes. Correct. - And that might be something to mention about this too, the cholla and the prickly pear that we'll talk about in a minute, they are spiny, and some of the chollas in particular, if you touch those spines, the stem will actually break off and come with you. - Yes. Sometimes called a jumping cholla or a jumping cactus. - Yeah. - Yeah. They're incredibly unfun to run into. Oftentimes not all cholla have it, but some will even have little hooks at the end of the spine to latch onto whatever is passing by. - So if you have young children, grandchildren, whatever, this might be something you want to keep-- - Yes. Layer... - Away from. - I always say with cactus, layer them towards the back of the garden. - And this is but one example of a huge family of plants. - Yeah. So Opuntia has tons of varieties. There's spineless, there's ones with different colored blooms, they will all have beautiful flowers, and they all have a wonderful fruit that comes off of them. A lot of times you'll see like prickly pair cocktails or drinks-- - Right. - That is coming from the fruit that comes off of this plant. A lot of people don't know, they'll have these growing wild in their yard, and they don't realize that they can go pull those pears and make things with them. - Yeah. - Or eat them, or you could take the seeds, spread 'em out and have a whole bunch more. But honestly, seed is a very uncommon form of propagation with this cactus. Most people will just take cuttings. - A pad. - A pad. You can take a pad, throw it directly in the ground, it will take root, and grow into a big, beautiful cactus really relatively quickly. - Yeah. - All right. Now, my grandmother always had hens and chickens-- - Yes. - In raised planters, in pots, and they're tough as nails. I mean, I'm a Kansas boy originally, and they would live through the winter in a pot in Kansas, in zone five. So down here we can do that as well. - Absolutely. So everything that you see on this table, I have these same exact plants in hen and chick pots, and in containers like this on my porch, and I never touch 'em. - Right. - The rain takes care of them, the sun takes care of them, and they thrive. This one you see how it's the beautiful purple, she's been out in the cold for the winter. - Right. - She's gonna turn a little bit more green in the spring and summer, and that purple's gonna come back again next winter. But they all will come through really, really wonderfully through the cold temperatures. That's the best part about them, I think. If you layer in rocks around them, especially in your landscape, other than occasionally pulling a weed, you can set them out there, and forget about 'em largely. - Right. And then in this little pot, we have another hen and chicken that has kind of a cobwebby surface. - Yes. - And then we have two sedums that have joined it. - Yeah. We have variegated sedum here, and then a golden over here, and these will spill over slightly. Some sedums will trail more than others, but these also do really well in the cold temperatures, and they can add more of that arrangement look that we like to get when we're putting together planters. - Sure. And great for containers, but all of these could also be grown in the ground. I have a question for you though, about our Tennessee clay. - Okay. - What do we need to do as far as soil preparation to have cactus and succulents that will thrive? - I highly recommend adding lime. So you can get limestone by the scoop, you can get it by the bag. - Right. - The lime itself really helps the cactus, but it also adds the drainage. I would recommend adding lime, as well as a good soil conditioner-- - Right. - To the soil to amend that clay. That clay retains so much moisture and.. - Right. Especially in the winter. - Very much so unfortunately. - And cold and wet is the combination that will kill a succulent or a cactus every single time. - Correct. Correct. So if you can at least take the top 12 inches of the soil as you're putting cactus in the ground of succulent, if you can amend that, add the limestone. - Right. - Add the soil conditioner. That will do so much to help your plants really thrive. - And you're actually talking about limestone gravel, - Yes. - Not just crushed lime. You can use crushed lime too to help raise your pH a little bit. - Correct. - But you're talking about limestone gravel for drainage. - You got it. And the limestone gravel does both. It both releases the lime, and helps with drainage. - It helps with that drainage. - Yeah. So it's kind of a two in one, and you can get a big scoop of it real cheap. So I recommend that a lot. - Thank you so much for the tips on growing hardy cactus and succulents outdoors. - Well, thank you so much for coming out. - Voles. Everybody's got 'em. Whether you know it or not, you've got 'em unless you live in an apartment, quite frankly. And I wanna make clear that voles are not the same as moles. That's one of the first things that people get confused. M versus V. Moles eat earthworms and grubs, and they make those tunnels in your lawn, but they're actually not your enemy. Voles use mole tunnels however, to get around, as well as making little bitty pathways through your grass. You can see it in the early spring, it's very clear where they've been. And voles are little tiny metal mice, basically. And what they do is they eat the roots of plants. And not just a plant or two, they seem to be voracious. They do a ton of damage over the winter, and they eat over 300 known varieties of garden plants. I mean, they'll eat just about anything. The exception of maybe a hellebore. They love hostas, for example, and I've seen a hosta, they'll tunnel under it, chew the roots down, and then just pull the plant down into the ground. It goes right out of sight as they eat it. I've come up to big nandinas that were sort of leaning over sideways, went over, found it, all the roots were gone. It had been eaten from below. Terrible things. So what do you do to get rid of voles? Well, if you're lucky you have rat snakes around, but a lot of people don't like snakes, they're the single best predator, also hawks and owls, but you can plant in a way that deters them. One thing voles do not like because they dig, they like soft soil to dig in, they don't like to dig through rock and gravel. So the trick is, particularly when you're planting, is to use stuff they don't wanna dig through. I'm gonna show you in this pot, you wouldn't do this in a pot because they wouldn't most likely get into one, but this is representing as if you were planting in the ground. And I wanna show you what you do. This is called enlighten, and it's made by EarthMix locally. And what it is is expanded shale, looks very natural, but you can look at it closely and see it's not super heavy because it's been expanded, heat expanded. And it's got a lot of sharp little edges, won't hurt you, but not fun to dig through. And basically, we use this as a physical barrier when you're planting. I'm gonna show you in this pot how to do it. Below the plant, you don't want the animals coming up from below, add a little dirt, pretend this is the soil you're planting with. As you plant, you're gonna wanna build a little moat of this stuff around the side of the hole that you've dug to plant the plant in. You can see basically you're walling off the plant. You may ask the roots of the plant from the outside soil. You may ask, well, will the a plant grow in this? The answer is, quite yes. It only adds to drainage. It doesn't hurt the plant. The roots can penetrate this stuff and get out into the native soil if so desired, where the voles can get it, but they can't get at the crown of the plant and kill it. So you are protecting your plant. So you continue to build this up around the side and continue to fill. Obviously, this is a more labor intensive way to plant than just digging a hole and plopping a plant in. But if you wanna keep your plants, this is the way to do it. Now let's just pretend we've got that good hole going there. Here's a hosta, I'm gonna put in there just to show you how to continue. This, by the way, is hosta stained glass, which is in my estimation the single best hosta on the market right now, fabulous plant. Okay, you're gonna continue, and then more soil around, push that up near the plant, make room for more. There's a big clot of something in there. More of this stuff, and just shoving it around. Some people plant their plants in wire cages, which you have to make out of like hardware cloth. That's a lot harder, it's possible, but this is a pretty easy way to do this. You can see we've got it planted. And I usually just put some... Because they like to run along the surface, I just do it like that. That would be protected from voles. And one other thing, is when you come back and you wanna mulch the garden, don't put mulch right up to the base of the plant. Leave a ring like this around it. That's open soil. The reason being that moles like cover. They'll go under the mulch and attack the base of the plant. But they don't like to go out into the open so if you leave a little opening around, it deters them also from overland attack, if you will. So hope that helps you guys. It's a terrible thing to lose a beautiful hosta planting, and it can happen pretty quick, 'cause they're very destructive. So this is a good tip, good stuff. - [Jeff] Middle Tennessee is awesomely beautiful with its lush green rolling hills and hollers. Our fertile soils grow great gardens and we can turn our worn out soil into good soil with compost, lime, and a little tender loving care. But gardening in hilly country poses special problem. Soil erosion. Terracing is the solution. And here is a terrace that was put in back in the thirties. So soil conservation went through a lot of the hills in Tennessee, and running terraces so that the water runs laterally. Water will seek its own level, and doesn't just wash right down the hill. There's a break in the terrace here, and when we get a gully washer rain, the water carries my precious soil off of the farm. So I need to fix that break in the terrace. We use a transit to find the level lines along the contours of these hillside pastures. I then flag it and follow the flags with a chisel plow. It's about two feet apart, and the trenches are only three to four inches deep. So as the water then is coming off the hill to go to the creek, and away from here, it gets caught in these trenches and soaks in. And that water then is used later on in our farm to grow pastures when it's dry in the summertime. Here we've laid some old logs on top of each other, held in place by metal fence posts. It's not the prettiest, but it holds back the soil for this blueberry patch. I've brought in compost and good soil to back fill it because we love blueberries so much. Contour plowing helps to prevent soil erosion. In this bed here, the land falls off at the end. So we're planting in a curve following the lay of the land, so when we get a rain, the soil doesn't wash off. It's more likely to just stay here. This is a project that I have dreamed of doing for years. On the hillsides, it's too steep to grow a garden, so I hired a bulldozer and he took off the top soil from this little section curves around this fence here. And he piled the top soil off, put the bulldozer in there and leveled the sub-soil. We spread several tons of sand and lime, and then the bulldozer put the top soil back on, all in about four hours. After a liberal dose of compost, we grew cover crops to bring the soil back in heart. This garlic was then planted last September. Now for the grand finale, rocks make the prettiest terrace. This wall is just held in place with sand and gravel. There's no cement in it and it's holding the soil up here, so it's the terrace for this garden right here. All cultures that last for thousands of years, think of Peru, and China, and Tibet, they flatten out their hillside so that their soil stays there. They know how precious that soil is. Form follows function, and beauty is close behind. A terrace saves soil and creates a feeling of a garden that's well loved and is here to stay. - [Narrator] For inspiring garden tours, growing tips, and garden projects, visit our website at volunteergardener.org, or on YouTube at the Volunteer Gardener channel and like us on Facebook.
May 26, 2022
Season 30 | Episode 21
Troy Marden profiles some cold hardy succulents that you can grow indoors or out. Annette Shrader explores the concept of a food forest in this backyard permaculture garden that provides abundant food while keeping harmful insects at bay. Marty DeHart knows voles can be a nuisance, eating more than 300 varieties of garden plants. She profiles a vole deterrent that's used during planting time.