Suburban Prepping at our Chateau

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Snydeman's picture
Snydeman
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Suburban Prepping at our Chateau

Greetings Fellow PPers! I put together a video (about 25 minutes) that illustrates the approaches my wife and I have taken towards preparing for a variety of potential crises. You can find the video here. A few things to note:

1) I'm not a professional video guy, so take it as an amateur using his family camcorder and some basic video editing software, because it is.

2) Our preps are nowhere near complete. We have tons more to do, tons more to purchase, and tons more to learn. I suspect it will always be that way!

3) As Rector pointed out to the community on another thread about a month back, we are NOT prepared for every crisis. We have taken what he and others have reflected on - from fires to hurricanes to flooding - and are reassessing how we can expand our preparations to include responses to those problems.

4) I'm not sharing this with the intent of showing how everyone should prepare, nor to show the best preparations one can make, but rather only sharing what we're doing. Please feel free to give us suggestions, since the many minds of PP's community are far better than our two heads. We haven't thought of everything.

5) Yes, I am extremely lucky to have a wife who is "on-board."

6) I use the term "TEOTWAWKI" a lot. It was coined by James Rawles in this book, and it means "The End Of The World As We Know It," which isn't to say complete destruction and Armageddon, but rather any major alteration to the way the world is currently running, whether that is economic, social, environmental, or political. There are simply too many crisis strands coming together in this moment to know which is the one that snaps, or how strands snapping will affect all the others, to prepare for any specific shift. What my wife and I do believe is that, as Chris frequently says, the "next 20 years will be [vastly] unlike the last 20 years." 

7) We're doing our best. It's all we can do.

8) We don't own gold, not because we don't think it is an important hedge, but because we prefer to spend our capital on basic preparations right now. That may change someday.

 

Anyways, we hope you enjoy and we hope this helps someone out there in the community!

 

-Snydeman

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Absolutely awesome video from suburbia

And I imagine you could upscale your garden quickly if needed.  I lust after you pressure canner, too.

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Kudos to you and your wife / family Snydeman

Great video and heartening to see "reality".

Also your humility, honesty, thoughtful approach - mixed with a good sense of humour.

Finally - your courage - to bare all and say it how you see it. Kudos. Impressed.

Thank you.

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Snydeman
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sand_puppy wrote: And I
sand_puppy wrote:

And I imagine you could upscale your garden quickly if needed.  I lust after you pressure canner, too.

 

That's the idea. I've toyed with buying a kick-operated sod remover so that I could help neighbors quickly convert their lawns to growing spaces too, but I'm not sure; it's far better to turn the soil than just remove the sod in the long-term.

 

The pressure canner is awesome, but I'll admit I owned it for years before working up the courage to use it. When the thing gets going, every alarm bell in my head was going off and telling me I was "gonna dddiiiiiieee," so it helps to follow the directions step-by-step and NOt wing it. That's why I finally started using it this summer (and because my pole beans produced sooooo mannnyyyyy beannnnsss). My next step is to try and do it on the Pioneer Princess, which will require finesse and constant attention.

 

-S

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Snydeman
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Geedard wrote: Great video
Geedard wrote:

Great video and heartening to see "reality".

Also your humility, honesty, thoughtful approach - mixed with a good sense of humour.

Finally - your courage - to bare all and say it how you see it. Kudos. Impressed.

Thank you.

 

Thank you for the compliments, Geedard! Above all else, I try to keep things real, and that is why I created the video; just us, aware suburban 'Muricans, doing what we can to prepare for fundamental shifts we feel are coming. 

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Summer produce canning

Made an ole barrel (steel) stove for canning outdoors. Watch yard sales for pressure canners w/o gaskets. We have three canners on the ready, saves time.

we have a "sweetheart" kitchen cook stove. I couldn't imagine canning indoors on it. 

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Snydeman
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robie robinson wrote: Made
robie robinson wrote:

Made an ole barrel (steel) stove for canning outdoors. Watch yard sales for pressure canners w/o gaskets. We have three canners on the ready, saves time.

we have a "sweetheart" kitchen cook stove. I couldn't imagine canning indoors on it. 

Robie,

I still need to come down your way to discuss how to grow Broccoli, so I could take a gander at how you use the barrel to can. I'm intrigued

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Marvelous video!

Do let us know how the straw works out. 

I love Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. We try to keep a rolling seed bank here, too, for the same reasons. 

I envy your cookstove, since all I have is an electric one with a cooktop that I cannot do pressure canning on, but we do have a turkey fryer base for that. I was terrified of our pressure canner, too. My husband is a controls technician and he does all the pressure canning at our place. I'm a wimp when it comes to things that might explode.

Love your pantry - the idea of putting things into the back for rotation is brilliant. No one has basements where we live - the water table is too high --so we do not have that. Looks like you've done very well for your circumstances although, as you point out, there is always room for improvement.

You wanted suggestions? Concord grapes--as in Welch's Grape Jelly--are dead easy to grow and grow in your climate! Just put a trellis somewhere in your back yard. 

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Excellent

Thanks for that fantastic insight into your world. I really appreciate the effort you've gone to with the video. We too have one foot in each camp due to uncertainty of timing and what will actually unfold. It's always encouraging to see others take prepping seriously. 

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Wendy S. Delmater wrote: Do
Wendy S. Delmater wrote:

Do let us know how the straw works out. 

You wanted suggestions? Concord grapes--as in Welch's Grape Jelly--are dead easy to grow and grow in your climate! Just put a trellis somewhere in your back yard. 

 

Wendy,

The straw worked amazingly, at least insofar as it was designed. The only weed issues I had were at the spots where I cleared the straw away to plant things, but that's so much less weeding than it was in previous years. I'm not sure yet how it will change the pH of the soil, though, so I can't say it is THE solution to weeds so much as "a" solution, albeit with possible side-effects I haven't discovered yet.

 

Concord grades -- YES. We've been looking for a fruit to grow here, and preferably one we could convert to wine, since we figure that the skill of producing alcoholic beverages will do us more right in the long run than holding a precious metal, and will be a tradable skill in any collapse - or at least one we can leverage to make us happy right up until the bitter end. We will begin looking over our back yard area and assessing where we might put a few trellises in. Great suggestion!

 

-S

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A couple of thoughts

Have you tried growing drying beans? We just let the pods dry out on the vine then pick and shell them. All you need is a pest proof container for storage - no preserving required. Many varieties are also good as green (pod) beans and fresh shellout so you get 3 hits at the same crop.

You'll need to do more seed saving at some point. Many seeds are quite easy to save but some are a bit tricky. I'll never be able to save carrot seed for example, as we have carrot weed everywhere which cross-pollenates with my carrots. And brassicas like broccoli need quite large numbers of flowering plants to give long term genetic stability. 'Seed to Seed' by Suzanne Ashworth is a great resource.

Another book for your library, if you don't have it is The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe. This focuses on growing the staples potatoes, beans, corn, squash in emergency conditions. Like you I don't read all of every book when I get it - but it is good to have the knowledge available for when you need it.

By the way I use straw too and have done so for several years. There are no bad side effects except the germination of a few embedded seeds - easy to pull out. A positive side effect is that the straw eventually breaks down and increases the organic content of the soil. My experience anyway.

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Drying Beans? What is this, David Allen

Can you point us to a specific plant?  Maybe a link to a seed company or pictures?

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Beans

Sand Puppy you're really going to have to start spelling my name rightsmiley. Or maybe I should just get myself a pseudonym too, as seems to be the fashion ;-)

Drying beans are simply beans that dry and store particularly well. One of my favorite varieties is an American Indian bean I know as Gila Beans.  Another favourite is Borlotti Stoppa. Some are climbing beans, some are dwarf. You just need to soak them for 24 hours or at least overnight before cooking them - like chickpeas. I'm sure you could find some in a health food shop.

Dry beans are an important staple because they are concentrated food value and they keep for years. And the bean is the seed. Once you've found a variety you like just set aside some beans to plant next year.

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fated
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Graet video

Fantastic video Snydeman to actually 'see' what someone else is doing in their preps/changed way of living is great.

I envy you kitchen cooker - you don't owe your wife on that one - she owes you!

And the progress on the garden is plain to see. You can easily save seeds from your favorite peas, beans, broad (fava) beans, tomatos, peppers, corn and cucumbers to save from having to re-purchase from the catalogue each year.

As David says above some things are harder to save, like carrots (biennial) and things that cross pollinate easily (brassica family). Beans are about the easiest and it looks like you have that nailed!

We have used a variety of mulches for years, pea straw, oaten hay, sugarcane, autumn leaves, and even pulled weeds. As above you may get the occasional shoot growing which is no problem, and as the mulch breaks down it adds to the soil without seeming to do any harm.

I think like us all you have come a long way, and who knows how much further we all have to go.

 

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Reply to #12

Hi Sand Puppy,

As David explains it's any of the beans which you can dry easily and store to eat (and/or re-plant) after they have gone beyond a good eating stage when fresh on the plant.

I've tried to upload a pic but failed miserably. - nope - just learned about compressing and removing identifying information. Persistance pays off.

I keep jars of them in the pantry over winter to eat in soups and stews, always leaving a good handful to re-plant. We have L-R below: Red kidney beans (small bush bean), Lima/madagascar beans (perennial/biennial climber), plain old green beans (var. blue lake), and two jars of Mostoller goose (climber). There's also a jar of store bought mixed soup beans there that I plan on removing the chick peas from to sow out this year. My first attempt at chick peas was a hot, dry and windy summer and I want to try growing them again. I also have envelopes with about 20 other varieties in my seed box.

You might buy 20-50 seeds in the little yellow envelope shown and this is what you can harvest, dry and save from a crop. No need to purchase those varieties ever again (fingers crossed) if you plant a couple or more bushes out every 2 years or so. Beans dry and store well, have a good shelf life for re-sowing and fairly much self pollinate so are easy to keep genetically pure. I leave them on the plant till the bush dies off, pull out the whole bush if it is a bush type, or harvest the pods from climbing varieties into a bucket. I leave all this under shelter of the carport for a week or so to dry further, then have a great de-shelling. I discard any pods that look mouldy or bug eaten, and any beans that are small, shrivelled or just not the same as the others. I then leave the beans in a cardboard box or old colander inside to dry for a bit longer before I place into envelopes or jars for storage. Similar process with my peas and broad beans and corn.

Hope I haven't bored you all with that but beans would be my favorite plant to grown and harvest.

 

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Thanks David!

Lots of good advice there, thank you! I've started working at saving seeds, but am very, very much in the early stages of that learning process.

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Bean sources (summarizing)

As a city slicker just exploring this topic I am very appreciative of specific breeds, plants names and instructions.  I list here things that fated, David Allan (<--spelled correctly) and Snydeman mentioned.

Johnny's Seeds Dry bean page.  Kidney beans

Johnny's Seeds Lima Beans

Mostollar Wild Goose Beans

Tepary Beans from Gila River area of Arizona.  (Gila Beans are very drought tolerant)

Borlatti Stoppa Beans.  Oops, they only sell to members of this New Zealand pemaculture club, the Koanga Institute)

How fated does it:

Beans dry and store well, have a good shelf life for re-sowing and fairly much self pollinate so are easy to keep genetically pure. I leave them on the plant till the bush dies off, pull out the whole bush if it is a bush type, or harvest the pods from climbing varieties into a bucket. I leave all this under shelter of the carport for a week or so to dry further, then have a great de-shelling. I discard any pods that look mouldy or bug eaten, and any beans that are small, shrivelled or just not the same as the others. I then leave the beans in a cardboard box or old colander inside to dry for a bit longer before I place into envelopes or jars for storage. Similar process with my peas and broad beans and corn

Thank you guys and gals.

(And Robie -- what beans have you found that grow well in central Virginia??)

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Robie: Outdoor steel barrel stove for canning

Robie, can you take a picture of your homemade steel barrel stove?  Or find a link to one on line??

Is it something like this?

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Stove

Mine ie a kit, don't remember where I got it. You use a 55 gallon drum. Legs, door and stove pipe ext. are cast iron. Will try to post pictures to you and snideman . Will include my broccoli row. ;-)

 

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Stove

Mine ie a kit, don't remember where I got it. You use a 55 gallon drum. Legs, door and stove pipe ext. are cast iron. Will try to post pictures to you and snideman . Will include my broccoli row. ;-)

 

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Northern Tool Barrel Stove

I got a barrel stove kit through Northern Tool. I also got the kit to add a second barrel on top of the first to help catch more of the heat that travels up the flue. With the top barrel added on you wouldn't be able to cook on top of the lower barrel. 

Here's a link to the page - both kits are shown.

I haven't used the kit yet, but I figured I'd get one before they outlaw them altogether, like they have in CA and WA. It would be a handy and cheap way to add heat to an outbuilding and from my understanding they CRANK out the heat, as in heating a 2000+ Sq ft shop/garage in little to no time at all. Tons of review videos on YouTube. 

If you have an angle grinder and a welder, I'm sure you could cut off a section of the barrel and weld some flat 3/8 steel to make a flat surface for cooking. In fact, you wouldn't even need to own the tools, perhaps a friend could help you build the project as part of a community building event with the added bonus that they could teach you how to weld (if you don't already know). 

BTW, really enjoyed the video Snydeman. 

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Cranking out the heat

The Pioneer Princess we have cranks out so much heat that during a week of zero-degree temps (2 years ago, the last time central MD had a winter), while I was running it, the first floor of our 2300 square foot home was 81 degrees, and upstairs was in the low 70s. There was frost on the windows and I was in shorts and a t-shirt...and warm.

 

I like those outdoor stoves. Might just get one as backup to the backup.

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Experiment with different varieties of beans

Hi Sand_Puppy-

   I buy a lot of my bean (and other) seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, at https://www.rareseeds.com/ .  Or to get right to the beans: https://www.rareseeds.com/search/?keyword=beans   One nice thing about the Baker Creek website is they have reviews on all their seeds from people who have tried them.

   One thing I found useful to do is to experiment with several different types of bean seeds to see which ones thrive in my soil and are most productive.  I wanted to learn ahead of time which beans we could count on, in case we actually have to depend on their harvest as a food source.  I found huge differences between different varieties.  Beans (for drying) that I've experimented with include:

- Cherokee Trail of Tears Pole Bean (a black bean);

- Haricot Tarbais Beans

- Hidasta Red Indian Beans

- Mayflower Beans

- Papa De Rola Beans

- Jacob's Cattle Bush Beans

- Hutterite Soup Bush Beans

- Arikara Yellow Beans

- Bolita Beans

The Cherokee Trail of Tears black beans and the Haricot Tarbais beans were by far the best producers for us.  If I was in a survival situation, they would be the ones I'd dedicate the most space to growing.  Others produced well (the Hidasta Red Indian Beans), moderately well (the Mayflower beans, Papa De Rola Beans and Jacob's Cattle Bush Beans), and others okay but not great (the  Hutterite Soup Beans, Arikara Yellow and Bolita beans). I suspect different people with different soil and in different geographic locations could have different results, so you want to find out what works best for you. 

   One other lesson I learned the hard way was not to leave beans/bean plants out in the garden after they were "dry enough".  I thought the longer I left them out to dry, the better.  But one year, after the beans were already fairly dry, we got a long spell of rain, and my beans got soaking wet.  When I tried to hang them to dry, I had mold issues.  Major disappointment!!  So be careful not to leave the beans out too long if your area is prone to rain.  Now I am much more proactive about harvesting the beans as soon as they are dry.

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Beans

To back up what pinecarr was saying about different beans being better in some areas or soils I can say that Bolita beans have been one of my best producing beans.  I've also found Good Mother Stallard to do quite well for me.  I tried some Fort Portal Jade this year for the first time and while they are an absolutely beautiful green colored dried bean they did very poorly for me.  I'll try them again next year hoping it was just a fluke, but I won't expect much.

I haven't tried any of the varieties pinecarr mentioned besides the Bolita bean so maybe they would all do even better, but I know Bolita works well for me and I like the flavor and texture of them.  I may give the Cherokee Trail of Tears bean a try next year though to see what happens.  I'd like a good black bean.

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Keep planting folks

Mother Jones ran a piece this morning and  has an early estimate on farming losses due to all the climate change disasters this year, it is around 7 billion.From peaches to grapes.Scary doesn't begin to cover it...

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Squeezing more food-growing in; neighborhood gardening post-TEOT

Very nice, Snydeman, and very generous of you to take the time to record and share, thank you. 

We grow quite a bit here on .15 of an acre in zone 6b, so permit me a few suggestions re maximizing food production on a small lot:

You can grow beans up a trellis on the side of the house (so long as you make provisions for harvesting them), and "stack functions" as the permies say, in that it will help passively cool the house. That would work best for drying beans, which you only have to harvest once or twice, and could accomplish by pulling down the vines. Or grow them on a taller version of the miniature arbor you have now. An arbor over the patio could be used for beans, or say, growing grapes, or kiwi vines while providing desirable shade in a warming climate. 

You could grow hops the same way (beware allergy issues, tho' - might want to test family members first), and have an herb useful for sleep remedies and for brewing, that also shades and cools the house or patio.

We're getting good results for longer-term seed storage by putting the packs in zip-style plastic bags (several similar kinds to a bag, depending on packet size) and storing them in an airtight case in the freezer. Storing seeds frozen extends their shelf life by at least double.

Can you plant shade-tolerant crops under the bean and cucumber trellises? Romaine lettuce, other highly nutritious greens. Watch out for slugs, tho', particularly with the mulch as it breaks down. (We feed the little darlings beer in shallow saucers. At least they die happy?)

Harvest and cook some of those dandelion (and other?) greens now, so your family learns how to enjoy them. Children in particular are susceptible to "appetite fatigue" under stress, unfamiliar foods are more likely to be rejected then.

Do the large trees in front bear nuts or other edibles? If not, can they be replaced with something that does?

You have room along the periphery for fruit trees, particularly if espaliered, with annual crops planted at their feet.

Can the large woodpile be moved closer to the door closest to the woodstove room? In a crisis, even something relatively minor like, say, everyone in the house having the flu, reducing the labor needed to keep the stove fueled will be valuable.

A HolzHausen pile, while not quite as space efficient, is attractive enough that it isn't an eyesore, so having the wood someplace more visible could work.

You might check out theprudenthomemaker.com for ways to grow a tremendous variety of food plants in a small space. She also manages to make it look elegant as she goes, which helps with blending in and with avoiding neighbors' complaints re visuals.

In a crisis, if you help your neighbors dig up their lawns and plant seeds, how will you impart the knowledge for how to grow to them? Something to think about in advance - time will be short, people will be stressed and fatigued, and you won't have time for widespread one-to-one tutoring. Anything you can do to cultivate ;) other gardeners in the neighborhood now could help make that more successful.  We've been very challenged on that front here - I've given away berry plants and garden seedlings, answered questions when asked, etc. only to see neighbors move away, or simply not care for the plants. Not much progress on this front 'round here yet, I'm afraid.

Keep us posted! It's heartening to see others' progress. Thanks!

 

 

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Espaliered Fruit Trees, HolzHausen Wood Piles

Those are GREAT suggestions Thivalista!

I can see how espalier trimming of fruit trees could give us lots of extra growing space, shade, and many more fruit trees and vines along one unused side of our house.  (It is the south, sun-exposed side.)  It would also make it feasible to put netting bird protection over the tree to prevent predation by the critters.

Here is a tutorial on the art of trimming fruit trees so that they grow in a flat plain along a supporting trellis.

The process  -- Apple Trees planted along a fence line -- Year 1

Year 2

Later years

How and When to Prune Your Espaliered Fruit Tree

You may need to prune two or three times per season to keep the tree in shape. The first pruning should be after it blooms in the spring. The flowers will indicate where the fruit will be, and you can prune accordingly. (Always use very sharp, clean shears that have been dipped in diluted bleach solution, or wiped down thoroughly with an alcohol wipe, rinsed and dried after each use to prevent potential disease spread.)

While it usually takes about four years to get the full artistic effect of your efforts, you may actually see fruit as soon as the second year… but if you want the most from your espaliered tree, remove that developing fruit for a year or two.

Then keep an eye on it, nipping off vertical shoots, and removing suckers and water sprouts. Shorten the horizontal branches to encourage the development of a fruiting spur. Because there will be more fruiting spurs produced along the horizontal branches than the vertical trunk, eventually you will have many fruits setting on your espaliered tree, so make sure your support is strong.

And a couple of HoltHausen wood piles:

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Efficiency?

This doesn't seem very efficient?  Would a rocket mass heater work well for your needs?

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Good HolzHausen hack!

Thanks, SandPuppy! I appreciate the pics, too - seeing that one of the HolzHausen piles looks to be built on an outer ring of earthbags gives me an idea for repurposing some now-unused sandbags that were formerly protecting an outbuilding wall from flooding....

Meanwhile we've planted white mulberry, jujubes, and a medlar in our front yard. More bio-diversity, and less-recognizable fruit sources. (Except by the darned deer - they don't care what color the mulberries are...)

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Awesome tutorial link

Sand_puppy, 

Thanks for sharing that tutorial link on espalier growing.

Another resource is Dave Wilson Nursery on YouTube. They have tons of videos including some on espalier growing as well as planting 3 trees in 1 hole and then pruning them to stay small. I haven't done the 3-in-1, but I have started to plant my bareroot trees in the spring during dormancy and then immediately prune them to knee high. When they break dormancy they put out some really nice low scaffold branches to work with. The first time I did it I was really skeptical, but I've only had 1 tree be slow to bounce back out of about 15 I've planted that way. 

I find it so much more enjoyable to work with smaller fruit trees than I ever imagined, but I think this spring when I order trees I will try my hand as some Espalier growing. 

Thanks again for sharing the link. 

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Thrivalista
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Dave Wilson tree pruning method

Iambertad, we're trying out the Dave Wilson nursery technique here this year for the first time. Would you be willing to share how long you've been using it, what your successes (and failures) have been, and what garden zone or geographic region you're in? I wonder if what works for him in California dryland will be successful here in our cooler, wetter Northeast summers.

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