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RE: treated wood
In a message dated 5/9/99 4:45:44 PM, you wrote:
<< If you're planning to build a grape or kiwi arbor I would highly
to consider using materials that will endure for the long term. Grapes and
kiwis can live well up to 100 years and grow to massive proportions putting
on hundreds of pounds of food annually. Personally, I wouldn't use any
type of organic material for the trellis; no wood, no bamboo, etc. They
may last 10-20 years but inevitably they will lose integrity and collapse.
Nothing nastier than trying to put a trellis back up under an enormous
vining plant. I would opt for metal myself. 2" galvanized pipe and/or
welded angle iron can be made to look elegant if you turn an artistic eye
towards the design.
Just a thought...
Director, Permaculture West
72 Mattson Rd.
Oakville, WA 98568
ph/fx: (360) 273-7117
This is more or less correct. However black locust will last 100 years or
maybe more. The sapwood is not so durable, but the hartwood endures.
The first time that I visited New Zealand I was taken to see the very first
kiwifruit vine planted in the country. The trellis was long gone, but the
vine had taken over a few trees and was doing fine. I blush to admit that I
don't recall the tree species. Of course most of the crop was now borne well
out of reach of anything except birds, but the vine had done its work. The
base of the vine itself was as thick as a tree trunk.
Permaculture design involves locating elements so that they are mutually
supporting and tending toward self-management. Putting crops that evolved
climbing on the forest edge in the middle of a field and then constructing
substitute supports is kind if anti-permaculture. In my view, vines are
something that you install if you have the correct edge for them. I'm not
very interested in grapes as a matter of personal taste. Our kiwis and kudzu
(yes, I cultivate kudzu) are either on naturally occuring trellises or on
poultry netting stapeled to poultry netting. We are in very early stages of
establishment. By the time it is needed, we will string taut heavy wires
(salvaged from fences used to enclose horse pasture here) stretched between
the living trees that are the fence posts. Most of the fence post trees are
palms, which do not increase in circumfrence and can't be girdled. Frankly,
if we didn't have the place for the vines, we wouldn't have obtained the
vines. Permaculture works with existing conditions, making best use of
available resources, changing as little as possible, integrating systems to
the fullest possible extent, and bringing resource-intensive materials (such
as steel posts our our poultry netting) to the minimum degree practical.
When they are brought into the design, as many functions are stacked on them
as reasonable to recover the imbedded energy if we can. (Our electric fence
is a nuisance in this regard as you can't trellis anything to it. If I had
it to do over, I'd use barbed wire, which is more energy intensive to
produce, but works just as well when covered with vines as when bare.)
We utilize all manner of vines here, from annuals such as garden
legumes, garden curcubits, perennials such as basella (annual if killed by
frost), apios, fo-ti, clematis, various ipomea and related food and
ornamental crops, various passiflora (native and exotic), chayote, etc.
Every vertical stem or surface is a design opportunity for the right vine.
We also trellis trailing crops such as blackberry, of course. I should not
forget jicama. Kiwifruit and kudzu are the only woody vines we cultivate,
presently, though we have to deal with ubiquitous wild grape that is a bit of
a weed. (I do let it run up various surfaces because it is so beautiful.)
Fortunately, our chickens eat grape leaves so we have only to cult vines low
where chickens forage to discourage the grapes. We have some ancient vines
that have to be way more than 100 years old that we are protecting, though,
because they have earned the right to be here.
So first be sure you have a place for vines. If you are puzzeling the
trellis, you may not have done your design work well. And if they are in the
middle of an open area, then it is rather like the freestanding greenouse
that Mollison is always using as an example of a placement with no design
consideration at all. We need to reconsider functional connections.
OK, one more point. I recall seeing chayote plantations in Mexico where the
vines were trellised over a raised grid of stretched wire. It was therefore
possible to stand in the shade of the vines and harvest. People were out in
the hot sun with hoes, keeping the earth bare. My suggestion was to plant
legumes and grains as understory--particularly in winter, when vines were
light and the season dry--and run poultry to harvest. This could require a
series of divisions so that successional planting and harvesting could be
done. The straw would be light mulch to protect the soil, possibly with a
Fukuoka-type legume cover as well, and the insects and grain would be
partially converted to fertilizer. Supplemental feed ing would be necessary
at times, resulting in added ferilizer. Presumably such a system would
produce meat-birds so that the land could rest a bit after slaughter age
during periods of low forage. Pulses are much better to build soil fertility
than continuous activity. The poultry would be a valuable crop, produced
very inexpensively, and so any expense in dividing fields, planting grains,
etc., would be quickly paid back. If a Fukuoka system were developed, labor
costs would be few. Thus we apply permaculture design principles to a
non-permaculture situation and make it more efficient, profitable, and
sustainable. Similar arrangements could be designed if you are hell-bent on
putting your vines away from vertical edges and then building the vertical
edges for them. If nothing else, at least canopy your vines high enough so
you can stand in the shade when you harvest.
Ok, I get another thought. I've seen in Catalonia (a country
occupied by Spain) grapes managed very low to the ground, severly pruned back
to short trunks that could easily have been hundreds of years old on terraces
that were surely a few millenia old, at least. These vines pretty much run
over the ground, making a low ground cover. You would want to read up on
this system of pruning. I think it was used for specific varieties of grapes
as they were grown in that region, but I have to admit that it was so
unnatural that I didn't pay close attention. I'm trying to remember what the
climate was in the original post on this question, now. I wouldn't use this
technique in a humid climate, as I think it would promote mildew, but this
district was very dry, due to long-standing deforestation that had dessicated
the climate. (I suspect that most of the Mediterranean was once a maritime
warm-temperate to subtropical climate. Then people deforested the region.)
Well that should be enough ideas to get the design cogs meshing.
For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
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