Fodder, Livestock, Perennial Plants

Fake It ’till You Make It

Perhaps it is just a sign that I am getting older, but this year the weather seemed to leap right from Winter to Summer.  One day it was cold and rainy and the trees were sporting just the tiniest hint of green on their suddenly supple branches.  The next day, the branches were joyfully dancing in the breeze, fully dressed in the delicate leaflets of Spring.  Soon after, the trees were swathed in the more sedate green of maturity, their branches swaying slowly, content and calm.

This is the third year for our mulberry Fedge (a cross between a fence and a hedge) and it is finally beginning to take shape.  Perennial gardening is very rewarding, but patience is required.  The first year saw growth that was cut to the ground the second spring.  The second year, we made some progress and the skeleton of the Fedge began to show.  This year everything seems to be exploding and the real work begins.  I spent a few minutes this evening pruning back the branches growing toward the street and fed an armload of trimmings to my very happy livestock.

I consider myself an innovator and this project is just one more example of that.  The concept of a Fedge is very old indeed, but mulberry is not a typical Fedging tree.  When I researched the idea I saw willow, osage orange, and sometimes roses used for Fedges.  However; none of these plants met all the criteria I set for our system.  I needed something that was adapted to our area, would grow well on our hill, grew quickly, and could be used as fodder for the animals when pruned.  Willow met most of these requirements, but I felt our hillside would not be damp enough in midsummer to keep it happy.  Osage orange is not a good fodder plant and the fruit would be a nuisance.  Some roses could meet these conditions, but pruning them and then handling the thorny branches seemed like a literal pain.  Our native mulberry trees seemed to be perfect for our plans….except I couldn’t find a single example of anyone doing this.

So I’m making it all up as I go….

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