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fruitful landscapes: the beginning of a meals forest, with michael judd

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THE TERM “meals forest” from the permaculture world sounds massive—like if I steered you begin one, you’d in all probability say, “I don’t have room for a forest of any variety.”

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However right now’s visitor bets that the majority of us who backyard have room for at the least a little bit little bit of fruity deliciousness within the type of a tree or two, underplanted with some fastidiously chosen companions. Perhaps the place a portion of the entrance garden is correct now, and possibly emphasizing native fruiting species.

Maryland-based Michael Judd is a longtime champion of edible landscaping, the writer of varied books, together with “For the Love of Pawpaws” (affiliate hyperlink), and hosts an annual pawpaw pageant every September. Recently he’s even the creator of a brand new app referred to as Fruit Patch that will help you get began by yourself little meals forest. (Above, flowers of one among Michael’s favorites, the pawpaw; picture by Jonathan Palmer, KYSU Land Grant Program.)

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Plus: Remark within the field close to the underside of the web page to enter to win a replica of “For the Love of Pawpaws.”

Learn alongside as you take heed to the Aug. 14, 2023 version of my public-radio present and podcast utilizing the participant beneath. You’ll be able to subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts right here).

making room for fruiting crops, with michael judd

 

 

Margaret: Is harvest time happening down there?

Michael: Oh, sure. Harvested a bunch of American elderberries and seashore plums right now with my little lady, and we’re going to make some popsicle juice out of it.

Margaret: I do know, you take advantage of fascinating recipes due to course elderberries, you don’t sort of take them off the plant and shove them in your mouth at most factors of their ripeness. However yeah, you make syrups and juices and popsicles and every kind of nice stuff.

Michael: Yeah. One in every of our favorites is meals forest jam, which varies with the harvest season, however one of many bases of that’s form of black currant and black aronia, elderberry. After which we sweeten that up with some goumi or some seashore plums or Nanking bush cherries. And so there are all these completely different mixtures which are beautiful. Very, very tasty.

Margaret: Not that you’ve lots of fruit or something over there [laughter].

Michael: Gotta do one thing with it.

Margaret: What number of pawpaw bushes?

Michael: Oh gosh, at the least 100.

Margaret: Uh-huh? And what number of persimmons, American persimmons? [Laughter.]

Michael: Oh, American persimmon. You’re hitting on my candy notes now. It’s in all probability an identical variety of American persimmons. And when you’ve by no means had a choose American persimmon, it is among the most beautiful fruits on the planet, it’s scrumptious. Not like lots of people’s expertise with a local American persimmon, which generally if eaten earlier than totally ripe will really feel very stringent and cheesy within the mouth. And even a few of these, even totally ripe, try this. However choose cultivars are completely scrumptious dessert like jelly with every kind of fragrant notes in it. Yeah, two of my favorites proper there, pawpaws and persimmons.

Margaret: You’re making me hungry. And so I discussed meals forest within the introduction, so what’s a meals forest after which what’s a fruit patch? Simply form of give us the thought of what that is on no matter scale.

Michael: So a meals forest [above, a young section of Michael’s] will not be rising meals in the forest. It’s rising meals like the forest. If you take a really wholesome ecosystem forest, you see loads happening. You see overstory bushes, mid-story, understory bushes. You see vines working up by way of all of it. You see herbaceous ground-level layers working, and it’s all working collectively. It’s all pumping and dealing symbiotically.

So once we take that remark, we see that sample, and once we come to plant one thing on our panorama out within the open garden, you wish to plant a fruit tree, as a substitute of sticking that fruit tree form of on the market in the course of the ocean of grass on the whims of weed whackers, what you’re doing is you’re creating a bunch for it, what we name a guild in permaculture. Usually these are perennial companion crops that help that most important fruit producer. So we’re not essentially going to stack that higher, mid-story and understory, however we’re going to take the idea of placing crops collectively to help one another.

And in that case, we frequently will put in one thing that fixes nitrogen, one thing within the legume household, one thing just like the, was it the wild Baptisia, with lovely blue flowers, and there’s all these different advantages as properly. However fixing nitrogen by way of the roots to the crops round it’s like planting your fertility in a single go.

You then’re additionally eager about, O.Ok., properly, let’s attract helpful bugs. So let’s put one thing like yarrow in there, which has this nice structure, nice habitat for every kind of helpful bugs.

And then you definitely’re additionally going to need one thing that’s like a mulch plant, one thing I really like to make use of, like comfrey, which can be medicinal. So multipurpose crops, but additionally issues that I can chop and drop for mulch or that may die on their very own and pulse that soil stage and feed that tree long-term. And then you definitely may need one thing like Echinacea, a little bit fuel station for the pollinators to land on.

Margaret: Sure. Sure. Sure.

Michael: Yeah. And increase that pollination. So that you’re creating range. A guild is not only the crops, it’s the life that it attracts as properly. So it’s going to have an effect on ecology stability. And actually what you’re doing is taking your self off the hook for having to essentially take care of that tree since you’ve accomplished a little bit little bit of design upfront by placing crops collectively, they assist serve one another’s wants, and that offers you extra time to do yoga, swing within the hammock, play together with your children.

Margaret: Watch for the harvest [laughter].

Michael: Watch for the harvest, or go do extra of those. And I name these fruit patches. After all, they could possibly be a nut patch, it could possibly be a bush fruit, however it’s a quite simple idea. So it takes that bigger concept of a meals forest, and brings it right down to one thing that could possibly be eight, 10 ft in diameter solely. And you may fit-

Margaret: Like on the cover of the tree, so to talk, and beneath it like that, with that dimension?

Michael: Proper.

Margaret: Not of the entire yard. It doesn’t must be the entire yard. It could possibly be this one space.

Michael: Proper. After which when you did have extra space, and also you needed to have much less garden, you could possibly begin spacing these patches out 12, 15, 20 ft aside and have your different fruit bushes in these areas. After which over time, in order for you, you could possibly sort of maintain doing what I name sheet mulching, which is like lasagna gardening. It’s like laying down cardboard and newspaper and straw and wooden chips and mulch, no matter form of materials that you’ve, natural materials round you, floating round us. Put that down. And that helps lengthen these patches, in order that over time your garden disappears and also you’ve bought this cornucopia of crops. And after I do one thing like that, I’ll usually put in form of working crops that may assist form of cowl that area and never have to keep up it.

Margaret: Yeah, it is smart. So we lately did a “New York Occasions” backyard column collectively, and also you have been speaking about this. It was in regards to the topic of sort of fruit patches turning into meals forests and lots of the native species. And one factor you taught me that I didn’t know as a result of I’m not… A variety of these phrases come from permaculture, the custom of permaculture. And I didn’t know that the tree, like if we are saying did a persimmon, an American persimmon tree [above], that’s our centerpiece. And beneath it, such as you mentioned, is the guild of companions and so forth. What are another form of centerpieces that you just, particularly like for these getting began?

Michael: Properly, the elderberry that I discussed earlier is a favourite. I prefer to get individuals began with fruits that they’ll have success with, in order that they’ll proceed to plant. So I don’t normally encourage among the tougher fruits to develop, which could be like peaches. Many apples could be fairly a little bit of enter. So when you’re not able to be very hands-on, then decide one thing that’s going to develop in a short time and simply. And elderberries, oh my, they’re one of many fastest-growing crops I’ve ever seen. And you may actually take a slicing on the finish of winter and stick it within the floor and growth, it’ll explode right into a bush.

Margaret: Now, we must always say you’re in Maryland [laughter].

Michael: Sure.

Margaret: So the explosion, it could be a little bit slower explosion up right here in Zone 5.

Michael: Sure, that’s true. However ultimately, I let you know is elderberry, I’ve been up within the Catskills and areas in New York, and I’ve seen massive, lovely, and so they bloom attractive. So that you’re getting this edible panorama.

Margaret: A division of them is as a result of they unfold, the roots unfold sideways, and so they’re straightforward to maintain in test when you simply go across the perimeter that you just want with a shovel on occasion. However I grew them all the time as fowl crops, as a result of they’re so beloved by wildlife, by birds particularly. And in order you’ve mentioned earlier, you utilize them in your jams and syrups and popsicle liquid and issues like that. However yeah, they’re nice wildlife crops, too. And pollinator crops.

Michael: Yeah. One other factor that goes for many fruit, most of your fruiting crops, you’re having all these a number of advantages, so you may plant for your self and for wildlife on the identical time. And that approach when you don’t get to reap, you’re not nervous, one thing else is flourishing out of your efforts of placing it in. And people flowers additionally, you may bake these or you may batter and pancake these. The flowers themselves have lots of medicinal worth, and they are often eaten lengthy earlier than the fruit exhibits up.

Margaret: Sure. So elderberry is one other risk. And once we did the Occasions story, you talked about utilizing one other plant that I’ve for the birds in my panorama, lots of them, is the Amelanchier, or shad or juneberry. And I mentioned to you [laughter], I mentioned, “Properly, I’ve by no means tasted their fruit as a result of a flock of birds all the time is available in earlier than they even ripen, actually.” I imply, they’re simply so beloved by cedar waxwings, as an example, the fruits of the juneberry. However that’s one other doable centerpiece, proper?

Michael: It’s an exquisite centerpiece. I imply, it’s a really decorative tree whether or not you eat the fruit or not. And also you’ll usually see them in parks. I harvest them at playgrounds. I’ve seen them exterior of fast-food eating places. They’re quite common as a result of they’re very lovely as a really form of small, very delicate branching and behavior to them. After which they’ve attractive, early seasoned flowers, like all white, these little plumes everywhere in the tree, which then in a short time flip into these little blueberry-sized fruits which have the flavour of form of cherry pie to me after I eat them, with a little bit little bit of almond aftertaste. And so they’re beautiful. I hope you may get some.

And 12 months to 12 months, some years they are going to be worn out by birds. However then this 12 months, for some purpose, the birds weren’t hitting them. And we got-

Margaret: Oh, fascinating.

Michael: We bought an enormous harvest. I’ve made scrumptious juneberry jam. It’ll make nice pies. Or you may soak it in vodka; it makes an ideal infusion.

Margaret: And so they actually must get sort of dark-colored [the ripening fruit, above]. I imply, earlier than they’re ripe and scrumptious.

Michael: Ideally, yeah. They appear to be form of reddish after which they’ll begin to go form of a purple-y. You will get them a little bit early, and so they’re nonetheless fairly pacey, particularly when you’re going to make jam or form of cook dinner them down a bit.

Margaret: O.Ok. Now, with the pawpaws, not that you just like pawpaws or something together with your annual pawpaw pageant with 600 visitors and oh my goodness, at your Maryland homestead farm, and many others. You want two, appropriate? As a result of we’d like a little bit cross-pollination. Not like, I feel, with the persimmon, it’s I can solely have one. How does that work with pollination with a few of these issues?

Michael: So with pawpaws, extra the merrier. They develop in patches and teams for a lot of causes. However the cross-pollination is essential for pawpaws. Now, you would possibly hear they’ve that there’s just a few cultivars which may have the potential to self-pollinate, however that’s not what you need essentially, anyway. You need genetic range.

The one or two cultivars or uncommon specimens which may pollinate themselves will not be going to have a heavy fruiting set. And over time, their fruit’s not going to be the identical high quality. So regardless that there’s a potentiality for them to self-pollinate, usually talking, you positively wish to have cross-pollination at the least two, and also you wish to have them inside 20 ft of one another.

Now, the opposite caveat with pawpaws basically is you don’t need them in robust winds, for a few causes. One, as a result of they’ve this large tropical leaf, attractive edible panorama specimen right here. We’re speaking like a foot lengthy, 6, 8 inches large. Oh, completely lovely. And being that enormous, it loses lots of water in a short time. So it doesn’t wish to be within the wind, and it desires to have sufficient moisture. Now, that doesn’t imply moist soil, as a result of they won’t develop in moist soil. They want moist soil, out of the wind. And that additionally helps with the pollination, since they’re pollinated by form of flies and fruit gnats and spiders and beetles and all these shady characters that wouldn’t actually thrive within the open as properly.

After which I additionally go forward and plan a range, after all, throughout them in order that I’ve bought life happening to stimulate that pollination. As a result of because it’s not bees, it’s these different characters, you wish to simply sort of be inviting them in. So on the identical time, black currants for me are flowering and bringing in life round my pawpaws, goumi bushes, which is one other one among my favourite bush fruits, can be closely flowering on the identical time and drawing in simply that exercise within the zone. However you can too hand-pollinate pawpaws very efficiently.

Margaret: O.Ok. And one of many different, moreover that massive tropical form of outsized foliage, it additionally, they will probably get nice yellow fall colour [above], which is gorgeous, and is one other form of decorative attribute of them. So they’re good-looking.

Michael: Very lovely. And now, they’ll tackle completely different development habits relying on the place they’re at. So generally they’re generally known as an understory, and are discovered all through the jap zone, all through the woods. And the understory usually has a patch, which is one mom plant with numerous suckers, and so they can lengthen as much as 1 / 4 of an acre in some areas. To allow them to actually dominate a zone. Proper.

Margaret: Wow! [Laughter.] That can do within the entrance garden.

Michael: Yeah. Yeah. You don’t that. However that’s extra within the shade. And what it’s doing is it’s self-propagating itself, not with fruit, however by way of its rhizomes, and that’s the way it’s rising. It’s a really adaptive species. We’re speaking about the one member of the custard apple household that migrated over tens of millions of years into the chilly north. So it’s an unimaginable, very distinctive species. And the truth that we’re capable of develop a tropical fruit right here simply blows me away. It’s simply phenomenal.

Margaret: And it’s native in lots of states. I imply, I feel it’s like-

Michael: Good 26 out of-

Margaret: 26 states, I feel. Yeah, half the nation.

Michael: Nevertheless it’s busted out of that. It’s busted out and it’s rising everywhere in the continent. They’re rising them in Europe. South Korea has planted a ton of them. I imply, they’re turning into form of this worldwide, dare I say, phenomena. I imply, there actually is lots of pleasure and lots of pawpaws are being planted across the temperate globe.

Margaret: Yeah. So I wish to ask you about a few issues. One is deer, which all the time comes up it doesn’t matter what I ever discuss on the present or write about within the Occasions or on the weblog or no matter: deer. And I bear in mind once we did the Occasions story, you had one enjoyable guild, one enjoyable assortment of companion crops, round one thing or different that, sure centerpiece that you just used as form of a deer deterrent. Another… You’re in 25 acres the place you might be, in your property. Now, what’s the take care of the deer? Do you’ve got lots of deer?

Michael: Now we have a resident herd. I’ve really by no means seen a web site with extra deer than ours. And I’ve seen loads, and I’ve labored round loads. And this web site is filled with the deer, partly as a result of we’re form of on the sting of the woods and then you definitely come out into suburbia. So that they love that edge. Plus our web site is loaded with crops, and so they’re welcome right here. In order that needs to be a key a part of design, all the time, upfront. You may have deer, you need to design for deer first. And fortuitously they don’t eat the pawpaws. They don’t eat pawpaws. Now, that mentioned, if pawpaws will not be rising in your space and also you plant a younger pawpaw tree, the deer will attempt it because-

Margaret: They’ll browse it. Yeah.

Michael: They’ll browse it to start, simply to attempt it, as a result of it’s not of their reminiscence financial institution, however as quickly as they struggle it, they’re not going to eat it once more. So you may fence it for the primary couple of years, after which as soon as it will get up and as soon as it’s mature, it may possibly deal with that preliminary testing. They won’t eat it. They won’t eat it. I assure it by watching the place I’m at and all of the pawpaw bushes I’ve. It’s one of many causes I’ve lots of pawpaw bushes, as a result of we’ve bought so many deer and so they don’t eat it. So particular optimistic there.

However you’re mentioning a guild that was within the article that I designed early on for a juneberry, which they most definitely would like to eat. So to get that juneberry going, I did a form of a 10-foot-by-10-foot fruit patch, and I planted the juneberry within the center after which ringing round it, I did Egyptian strolling onions, that are actually cool, and the deer don’t eat alliums, in order that they’re not going to eat that

Subsequent to that, I had a spiky gooseberry bush. So that they’re going to return as much as that, they’re going to poke their nostril and so they’re like, “Ah, this sucks,” and so they transfer on. And subsequent to that could be a sage, a culinary sage, and so they’re not going to eat the fragrant herbs both. So that they’re like, “Ah, nothing right here,” and so they go alongside. And I had a wormwood, one other medicinal plant, subsequent to that. After which they’re like, “Ah, there’s nothing right here,” and so they moved on and so they by no means noticed that younger juicy juneberry tree within the center. So that you could be artistic.

Margaret: So that you fooled them on that one? Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. I bought them. I bought them on that one.

Margaret: So among the different… I don’t know in the event that they eat elderberry. I’ve a fence around-

Michael: They do. They do eat elderberry.

Margaret: They eat elderberries [above, elderberry fruit, background, with aronia berries]?

Michael: You betcha. That’s a problem as a result of I really like rising elderberries. So what I usually must do is I’ll get form of welded wire fencing and I’ll make a great 4 foot, 3 to 4 foot-

Margaret: Like a fence, so to talk? Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. Only a circle, and tie it round and stake it. And also you need these to be ideally 60 inches tall, and also you’ll must develop your elderberries out of that after which have your elderberries be quite tall, which is difficult as a result of most individuals don’t notice, like most of your shrubs, you wish to renew these stems to get splendid fruiting. So when you don’t… Like for you, you’ve got a fenced-in space. Ideally, you’re taking out the wooden, the stems of the American elderberry after their second 12 months. So something over two years you’re taking out, so that you solely have first and second 12 months canes, main and fruiting canes. And that approach you retain your shrub rejuvenated, and also you’re getting most fruit. In any other case they turn into giant and form of crowded, and also you’ll get much less fruit manufacturing and well being decline will occur, so good to be interactive together with your elderberries.

Margaret: So that you’ve lately launched this app, the Fruit Patch App, I do know. And I don’t know when you get analytics, so to talk, knowledge from… I don’t know if what persons are curious about, or have you ever had suggestions from individuals or what sort of… As a result of what it does is it sort of leads you thru the fundamentals of this course of we’ve been speaking about, about selecting a centerpiece relying in your solar or shade situations, after which selecting some guild members to go round it.

And by the way in which, there’s different “guilds” that you could possibly do. You encourage us to do what we’re going to make use of or eat. You talked about some earlier than which have ecological worth, however you additionally say we may plant our favourite herbs beneath it, proper?

Michael: Proper. So there’s no set science in all of this. It’s an idea, and also you plant what you suppose you’re going to make use of and harvest. Ideally you do get in some nitrogen fixers and a few habitat crops, however even when you don’t, at the least you’re creating range. You’re creating habitat it doesn’t matter what, by placing in different perennials round your crops. However by including within the nitrogen fixer, you’re serving to stability the necessity for that fertilizer. However I additionally deeply mulch on a regular basis.

So I’m consistently feeding my soil. If it doesn’t have a groundcover, a robust groundcover on it, after which I’m mulching it, and that feeds the soil. The fungi are releasing vitamins to your bushes. So it’s not essentially a way of competitors that’s happening you probably have form of a juicy zone for every part, there’s a lot there and so they’re supporting one another. In order that’s one idea. It’s important to take care of that entire competitors, and “Oh, I’ve bought to have issues all spaced out.” In a form of linear, non-fertile system that’s being fed, sure, however whenever you’re actually form of creating a pleasant soil base, you’ve got sufficient there in your crops to thrive.

Margaret: Properly, in the way in which that’s talking of forests, in the way in which that the forest earlier than it bought decimated in most locations, the way in which that the forest would drop its leaf… The bushes would drop their litter leaves yearly, that leaf litter would degrade, proceed feeding the soil, all of the creatures that lived within the soil… and so forth and so forth and so forth. It was a system, as you mentioned earlier.

Michael: And with heaps happening, a really packed system. So yeah, it’s taking that idea and remark. However the Fruit Patch is one thing I’m very enthusiastic about. I’m all the time working towards seeing the change that I would like on the planet by actually serving to individuals really feel assured in planting fruit bushes, nuts, these medicinal crops, and having success with it, and the way to try this, find out how to meet all people the place they’re at and beginning out. So I attempt to maintain it easy and how-to.

And the Fruit Patch is a instrument for that the place it’s beginning out with simply fundamentals. You’ll be able to have full-sun or partial-shade choices, and you may have a most important fruit, and you may select both like a culinary herb companion group in your tree or a form of extra of a local pollinator group in your tree or your fruit bush. And we’re quickly going so as to add mushrooms to that, after all, as a result of one other one-

Margaret: After all.

Michael: … of the large classes that I’m in love with, however easy-to-grow mushrooms and wine apps and issues. So yeah, very enthusiastic about that. Proper now we’ve began out, it’s on the Apple telephone, the iPhone. We’re going to get it will definitely to Android. There’s a studying curve with creating this software program, however we’re fairly pleased with the place it’s at.

Margaret: It’s enjoyable.

Michael: We definitely encourage everybody to test it out. Yeah, it’s a instrument. It’s really a instrument for a bigger imaginative and prescient we now have, which is the Meals Forest Transformation Community, which we’re beginning out alongside the jap aspect of the US. And also you’ll see a map on the app of the realm that we’re beginning with so far as your decisions for rising. However then as we develop this, we’re going to create hyperlinks and form of a social community as properly that exhibits how collectively by way of our fruit patches, we will create this meals forest community.

Margaret: Not that you’ve massive objectives or something like that. Or 100 of those and 100 of these bushes [laughter].

Michael: Proper, proper. Properly, we’d like a lot, don’t we? We want a lot. And we’d like sensible issues that we will all do. And that’s the place I’m focusing.

Margaret: Yeah. Properly, Michael Judd, I’m all the time glad to talk to you, too. And I had such enjoyable doing the Occasions story lately, as I mentioned, as a result of I actually didn’t know lots of my fruiting crops are only for the birds, I believed. So I didn’t know these different concepts of how I may make the most of them as a harvest for me, too [laughter]. In order that was sort of enjoyable. And I hope I’ll discuss to you once more quickly.

Michael: Great. Thanks, Margaret.

enter to win a replica of the pawpaw e book

I’LL BUY A COPY of “For the Love of Pawpaws” for one fortunate reader. All you need to do to enter is reply this query within the feedback field beneath:

Have you ever ever grown, and even tasted, a pawpaw? What fruit do you develop in your house backyard?  

No reply, or feeling shy? Simply say one thing like “rely me in” and I’ll, however a reply is even higher. I’ll choose a random winner after entries shut Tuesday August 22, 2023 at midnight. Good luck to all.

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choose the podcast model of the present?

MY WEEKLY public-radio present, rated a “top-5 backyard podcast” by “The Guardian” newspaper within the UK, started its 14th 12 months in March 2023. It’s produced at Robin Hood Radio, the smallest NPR station within the nation. Pay attention regionally within the Hudson Valley (NY)-Berkshires (MA)-Litchfield Hills (CT) Mondays at 8:30 AM Jap, rerun at 8:30 Saturdays. Or play the Aug. 14, 2023 present utilizing the participant close to the highest of this transcript. You’ll be able to subscribe to all future editions on iTunes/Apple Podcasts or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts right here).

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Welcome to the lush world of gardens and nature with Katia, your dedicated guide on Academy-Garden.com. With a profound love for the natural world and a deep-rooted connection to all things green, Katia is your trusted companion in unraveling the beauty, science, and serenity that encompass gardens, plants, trees, and the great outdoors. Katia's journey is one of exploration and environmental appreciation, driven by a genuine fascination with the intricate ecosystems that thrive around us. Her articles are a harmonious blend of informative insights and heartfelt storytelling, capturing the essence of the botanical wonders that shape our surroundings. Drawing from a rich tapestry of horticultural knowledge and a desire to inspire environmental stewardship, Katia's writing takes you on an immersive journey through gardens of all sizes, plant species, and the delicate balance of nature. Whether she's delving into gardening tips and techniques, unveiling the unique qualities of different plants and trees, or celebrating the restorative power of nature, Katia's words paint a vivid portrait of the world outside our windows. Beyond being a dedicated chronicler of nature's splendor, Katia is a community builder. She recognizes the importance of creating a space where fellow nature enthusiasts can come together to share experiences, exchange gardening wisdom, and collectively celebrate the beauty of the outdoors. Join Katia in exploring the enchanting world of gardens, plants, trees, and nature's wonders on Academy-Garden.com. Embark on a journey that celebrates the intricate connections that sustain life on Earth, and let Katia's passion ignite your own appreciation for the verdant tapestry that surrounds us.

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