planting guide

1. General Planting Guide

– Allow your plant’s or tree’s roots to soak in water an hour or two before planting. Do not soak the roots for more than 24 hours (Exception: Mexican pepperleaf, taro, gotu kola and penny wort should be soaked for 3 days). Small plants that are shipped with soil do not need to be soaked.

Expose plants gradually to sunlight.

– Dig a planting hole that is large enough to accommodate your plant’s current root system with some extra room to grow. 

– Spread out the plants roots to encourage outward growth.

– Keep the plant vertical in the planting hole (perpendicular to the ground) so that it grows straight.

– Refill the hole with native soil (what was removed at digging time), and some organic compost.

– Gently tamp out any air pockets from the soil once the planting hole is filled.

– Thoroughly water your plant

– Give your plant some love, sing a song, tell it a story (optional)

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How to root cuttings

2. How to root cuttings

– Soak cuttings for 24-48h in water. Add a few drops of willow water, rooting hormone or alcohol if on hand. 

– Now you have 2 options: 

1) Leave them in water until roots form. Change water when it gets cloudy (the alcohol will help keep the water clean and bacteria free). Once the roots have formed you can plant in rich, loose garden soil or compost, either in a pot, or directly in the ground. This method works best for Elderberry and Willow.

2) This method works best for Beautyberry and Mulberry

– Choose a container that is deep enough to support the new root depth.

– Prepare a soil mixture that holds moisture, but does not become waterlogged – ⅔ potting mix and ⅓ sand works well

– Each stem that is prepared to this point will be dipped into a rooting compound and then placed directly down into the soil. We prepare the cuttings for you with a long incision on the stem – this allows maximum surface for root growth. On our permaculture, we use willow water as rooting hormone. 

– Cuttings will root without rooting compound (so do not worry if you don’t have any on hand) – it just may take a little longer.

– Plant the cutting with the cut end buried by at least 1 to 1 ½ inches (2.5-3.8 cm.) We always make sure that at least 2 nodes (where leaves used to be that were nipped off to encourage root growth) are covered in soil.

– Place a plastic bag over the container and put it in a 55 to 75 F. (13 to 24 C.), indirectly lit area.

– Open the bag daily to encourage air circulation and keep the media moist.

– Check for roots in two weeks. Some plants will be ready and other will take a month or more. 

– Repot the new plant when the root system is well established.

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black cherry

A look at.. Black Cherry tree

Common Name: black cherry  

Type: Tree

Family: Rosaceae

Native Range: North America

Zone: 3 to 9

Height: 50.00 to 80.00 feet

Spread: 30.00 to 60.00 feet

Bloom Time: April to May

Bloom Description: White

Sun: Full sun to part shade

Water: Medium

Maintenance: Low

Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Flowering Tree

Flower: Showy, Fragrant

Leaf: Good Fall

Attracts: Birds

Fruit: Showy

Tolerate: Black Walnut


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in moist, fertile loams in full sun. Young trees develop a long tap root which makes transplanting difficult.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Prunus serotina, commonly called black cherry, wild cherry or wild rum cherry, is native to eastern North America, Mexico and Central America. In Missouri, it typically occurs in both lowland and upland woods and along streams throughout the state (Steyermark). It is one of the largest of the cherries, typically growing to 50-80’ (less frequently to 100’) tall with a narrow-columnar to rounded crown. It is perhaps most noted for its profuse spring bloom, attractive summer foliage and fall color. Fragrant white flowers in slender pendulous clusters (racemes to 6” long) appear with the foliage in spring (late April-May). Flowers are followed by drooping clusters of small red cherries (to 3/8” diameter) that ripen in late summer to dark purple-black. Fruits are bitter and inedible fresh off the tree, but can be used to make jams and jellies. Fruits have also been used to flavor certain liquors such as brandy and whiskey. Fruits are attractive to wildlife. Narrow oblong-ovate to lanceolate, glossy green leaves (to 5” long) have acuminate tips and serrate margins. Foliage turns attractive shades of yellow and rose in fall. Mature trees develop dark scaly bark. Bark, roots and leaves contain concentrations of toxic cyanogenic compounds, hence the noticeable bitter almond aroma of the inner bark. Native Americans prepared decoctions of the inner bark for cough medicines and tea-like cold remedies. Hard, reddish-brown wood takes a fine polish and is commercially valued for use in a large number of products such as furniture, veneers, cabinets, interior paneling, gun stocks, instrument/tool handles and musical instruments.

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word for “late” in reference to the late flowering and fruiting of this cherry in comparison to other cherries.

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Urban permaculture

Small scale permaculture combined with a rooftop garden

Very limited space and resources should not discourage city dwellers from actively participating  in some of their own food production. There are many techniques and concepts to optimize sun catchment beyond what a balcony allows to do. In confined urban and post industrial areas where concrete and bricks usually are seen in abundance can be found also an interesting micro-climate created by daytime heat absorption. The global warming of a city in the summer can easily cause unbearably high temperatures for us humans but can also be harvested and thrown back into the cycle of life. That is one of the 12 principles of permaculture. Wether on a farm or in a urban area, they all can be applied and we can all benefit from it.

An abandoned clothes line can be the perfect structure for vine to thrive on. Grapes can be harvested from it and birds will be attracted to the area. Eventually the growth will start happening not only along the line but also downward thus creating a natural curtain that will block excessive summer heat and create a nice shady area on the other side. The beauty of this simple design is, it belongs to a natural and autonomous system that follows the subtle increases and decreases of daylight throughout the seasons. Once the majestic autumn color show is terminated the curtain simply falls automatically (to allow for more sun absorption during colder months ahead) and decomposes into what will be food for plants in the next season. A wall can can also be turned into a vertical garden and will drastically improve the visual aspect of a small backyard while giving out similar benefits. Using a flat rooftop to grow plants in containers is another way to engage in that life cycle and can lead to very impressive harvests as I personally experienced.

Our need to start growing food came about with an overwhelming amount of compost we began to produce within two years of carefully putting aside all biodegradable waste that would otherwise end up in the trash can. When we realized how valuable organic matter really was, we began raking the neighbors leaves in the fall to enlarge our biomass pile which, on its own and within a few months, turned into extremely fertile soil.

Even with very limited space such as our urban backyard of 25 feet wide by 40 feet long, there are still many different ways and possibilities to create a small scale permaculture. In our climate zone we privileged the Saskatoon berry and Sumac as medium size trees. They lie underneath one large Silver Maple which is more than we need as our canopy tree. As bushes we have blueberries and haskaps along with rhubarb and different varieties of raspberries. Three varieties of vine climb and cover fences and walls while our principal ground covers are strawberries and sorrel. All of those come back on their own in the spring and give out something to eat throughout spring summer and fall. Planting perennial edibles could also very well be the most accessible and affordable solution to start tackling the most critical worldwide issues of our times.


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Rooftop gardening

In the city of Montreal nearly all of the building’s rooftops are flat, including most residential ones. Many years ago we discovered the wonders of being able to push the climate zone simply by physically climbing up the ladder. Up there, springs resemble summers and summers resemble those of the deep south!

Being able to take advantage of this micro-climate has been an incredible discovery and learning experience. It certainly made us realize how big of a potential for growing food is dormant within cities. It is almost shocking to see how plants can thrive and produce in that environment. We were surprised to witness such growth out of relatively small containers. The yield, the taste and freshness, all there a few feet above our heads!

Despite all the labor that comes with such a project it is well worth the effort. Every moment spent up there surrounded by plants that attract bees and butterflies brings us closer to nature despite being in the city, In a way, it also creates an extra room in the house, one that allows us to reconnect.

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