Rural System's

The Group:
Gardens and Pleasant Yards

See some major duplications of the following in Gardens and Yards

There are about 70 million households engaged in gardening activities or doing outdoor decorating. Landscaping can increase the resale value of a house by 4-5% (Clemson study), thus there is a clear financial justification for such work. The market and interest in unmistakable. We have GIS, GPS, soil and ecological knowledge to back an enterprise and a proposed laboratory.

We use programs for scheduling among srops and within clusters for extended harvests and deliveries of produce using for example:

We treat small crop fields appropriate for the Appalachian and small-land owner terraine as gardens.

Preliminary list of suggested plants and planned analysis for each.

We plan to obtain customer objectives and a sketch of the garden plot. Then using customer and consultant inputs about their site and their objectives, we plan to utilize a combination of the following:

  1. Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Gardening
  2. Exotic Garden
  3. Florafile
  4. Garden Encyclopedia
  5. 3D Landscape
  6. Key Home Gardner
  7. LandDesigner

Few people will purchase or operate the many computer aids to gardening now available. We can provide nurseries and others site-specific recommendations from these data bases and encyclopedias, even delivering some by email at a price.

Rural System Gardens are scientifically designed gardens using modern concepts of horticulture to grow profitable, healthy and healthful, beautiful garden produce in the region. Reviving some of the concepts of World War II "Victory Gardens", these gardens are placed by the company on private lands and produce is used by the owner and sold in large lots after being collected from the plots. Contracts and temporary easements are let for long-term plot use. Private land owners may request that their area(s) be developed as profit-making units of the regional Rural System effort. Not "organic" produce, that which is produced (flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs, decorations) is marketed as local, a special superior product of Rural System, healthful, clean, and displayed in beautiful settings for the people of the region, visitors, and those nearby. (These gardens are especially suitable for small plots within towns and along roadways in public rights-of-way.

A nursery of perennial plants is created and these plants are used in computer-designed gardens. The entire garden is the product sold. The staff puts in the entire custom-designed garden, one responsive to local soils and other ecological conditions. The size varies significantly. Objective usually include: year-around color, visible plants, pest resistance, diversity and variety, disease resistance, low maintenance, and select emphases such as butterflies, a specific color, backyard-wildlife, storm water control, etc.

A large production area system is developed for medicinal plants (e.g., ginseng) and a coop program is developed for growers throughout the region.

Alpha Earth is produced and extensively used on all gardens. This is pure, certified vermicompost from a newly designed production facility, arranged trays of carefully monitored and managed select-species earthworm populations producing compost for the select market of the Rural System Gardens, then others as specialized organic-food markets are developed.

Nitrogen Emphasis

We work toward a carbon char that sequesters carbon, blackens the earth, and increases productivity by slow release of soil nutrients. We concentrate on nitrogen. We now realize from sudies that only about half of all N fertilizer is taken up by crops to which it is treated. Nitrogen is a high-energy-cost nutrient. It is often the most limiting of nutrients for plant growth. It is essential for stable increasing food production. We believe that using nitrogen efficiently on our gardens is the only major way to increase food production and reduce loss the the environment (with sometimes harmful effects). We believe that we can bring nitrogen use effectiveness from 20-25% up to 75%, an equivalent financial gain of 25% in the local commodity price per ton.

To gain this effectiveness we work on a garden-specific basis to do one or more of the following:

Existing soils are analyzed and then, based on conditions found, adjusted to an optimum standard of texture, organic matter, and fertility. Catchments assure moisture in water-limited periods. Fencing protects from vertebrate pest damage and vandals. Each Plot is specifically located with GPS, a data base for each is prepared, and optimum seeds are provided for the most profitable crops that can be produced on plots with the specified location in a GIS (elevation, slope, aspect, latitude, longitude, frost period, etc.) Plot owners are encouraged in maximum quality production for it is purchased from them. They may use limited amounts of produce from their land but it is thus not available for sale.

The Rural System Gardens is a company exercising dispersed gardening, centralized sales, voluntary contractual use of private property, economies of purchasing seeds, fencing, moisture structures, fertilizers, sands, mulch, specialized garden soils, and insurance. Economies are gained in cultivation equipment, drying, processing, packaging, and marketing. Cultivation may be privately done or by contract (similar to a lawn-care activity) with Rural System Gardens.

See possible relations with Enchanters Garden, Hinton, West Virginia 304-466-3154 selling native plant materials.

Integrated pest damage management (vs. IPM) is promoted.

Contests are conducted major prizes are offered based records. Regional shifts are made in the corporate productivity as knowledge is gained from the annual production of hundreds of gardens (research plots) in the region.

Independent lab analyses on produce are performed and reported publicly.

A Rural System Gardens membership is offered with newsletter (and web chat room) and Master Gardeners are encouraged. Human nutrition is promoted. Surpluses are developed for needy charitable centers. A human health program (The Chi Concept) is studied and likely to be promoted in relation to insurance and expanded healthful life expectancy and lowered infant death rates. Sales of tested superior gardening equipment and supplies is done through affiliated companies. These sales are for gardeners working off Plots.

In a warmer world, floods and droughts will be more frequent and more intense. Only plants with a broad ecological amplitude will be profitable (because of the growing risks. Water management systems will be developed as a first priority for gardens. We must protect and restore lands of our streams and rivers to help communities be more resilient as the impacts of a changing climate worsen.

Sales of select national gardening magazines are promoted.

A community gardening group is likely to be sponsored to "attack" garden problems and potentials as in a project of overall community betterment or old fashioned group "barn raising." The Land Force will be available in most areas.

The Local Wildland Garden

Members of this special group go to logging areas and rescue plants that are likely to be destroyed in the normal processes of logging a stand. The work is seasonal and usually addresses conspicuous and blooming plants, but progressively all of the native plants of an area are collected. Plants are not taken from undisturbed areas or from areas unlikely to be disturbed. In addition, from each logging site, three "top-square foot" pieces of forest litter is taken (using only a large knife to cut through the edges and down to soil and a three-foot section of a dead and decaying tree limb). These are placed in the wildland garden on the contour among the plants. Studies are encouraged to follow the forest-age related differences over time (the transition) in understory plants and the soil and moisture conditions there is decomposing litter and large woody debris. Also related are potential studies of mushrooms and soil fungi relations to trees. The role of small mammals in spreading these valuable spores needs to be clarified. It is likely that a clear financial link can be found between mice contributing to mychorizzal abundance and thus mineral uptake for growth by trees (i.e., the more mice, through a chain of complex relations, the better the site index for a yield curve becomes).

Separate from the above or working closely together, the following will be pursued:

The Pleasant Yards Group

Increasingly people are moving from the cities. The residential area people are moving to the rural fringes. There are growing needs for wildlife management at the rural fringe.

Quarries, roadways, powerlines, farmyards, and industrial areas ... all have wildlife that can be managed ... to increase or decrease it. The variety of conditions is so great that it is difficult to generalize. The key activities are within gardens and for birdhouses, feeders, and birdbaths. There are needs to reduce pests (e.g., pigeons or their effects) and auto collisions.

Whether in the city, town, or rural area, yards can be managed for great satisfaction. Service can be supplied (like that of the lawn care companies). Landscaping can improve energy conservation in buildings and provide food and nesting sites. Free-roaming pets are a significant problem and poor sanitation can attract many animals that may become pests.

The program of The Group includes:

Typically, work will be done with urban forestry specialists and include

Connections include urban forestry, composting, bird houses, bird feeders, bird baths, bird foods, specialized reclamation plants

See Wildscapes:

See The Daylily Garden.

Consider corresponding with on urban-wildlife landscape certification (Steve Bell, WDFW Area Habitat Biologist, 249 Fish Hatchery Road, Mossyrock, WA 98564 )

As the human population expands, the habitat for wildlife decreases. In those places where development has already happened, or will occur, landowners can mitigate habitat loss by incorporating desirable habitat components into their landscaping. Building " in the woods" can wipe out all of the habitat components that attracted the wildlife they came to enjoy.

See the State of Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife's Landscaping for Wildlife for ideas, biological concepts and detailed instructions on habitat components that can be incorporated into urban-suburban landscaping.

The concept is to provide habitat for something other than the crane flies and starlings that are attracted to the sterile low-diversity backyards of a well-groomed neighborhood. The book advocates snag retention/creation, planting/retaining multiple species of vegetation to produce structural diversity, maintaining large woody debris for amphibians, blue prints for bat houses, etc.

Conditional permits, occasional enforcement, etc. can be deterrents to habitat destruction but not many positive incentives. Although these "sticks" are essential to mitigating the wholesale destruction of habitat, they are not always as effective as we might hope. We are developing an incentive/reward for incorporating desirable habitat features into the garden yard landscape. Maybe a "certified citizen wildlife habitat landscaped lawn" sign may be sufficient. At least one state, Kansas, runs a certified backyard program. A financial award with contest may be developed. Local tax incentives may be considered. Developers may get a reduced fee on some permits if they incorporate significant and beneficial habitat components into their dwelling sites along with a covenant that results in the long-term maintenance of such features.

The Humane Society of the United States also runs an urban wildlife habitat certification program. TheWildlife Habitat Council offers habitat certification and education for both corporations and individuals.

New Hardiness Zone Map Will Reflect Warmer Winters

The latest Hardiness Zone map, which provides recommendations for suitable plant species and planting times, is set for release by mid-summer, says a spokesperson for AHS Gardeners' Information Services in a Missouri Ag Connection article(2008?) The USDA-approved maps are based on 15 years of data, with the new version using data from 1987 through 2001. Some unusually warm winters during that period will result in zone reclassification for some areas. For example, most of Missouri will change from a Zone 5 Designation to Zone 6. In addition, says AHS, USDA climatologists are adjusting the map to reflect warmer temperatures in the areas around large cities.

Other map improvements may be made for the regions served by Rural System.

The following Table suggests approximate annual production figures for preliminary studies and modeling of phytomass (Sources unknown; students in Systems Ecology, 1970's):
Source Weight in pounds / acre
Rice 4,684
Peanuts 2,203
Tobacco 2,074
Alfalfa hay 15,000
Sugar beets 42,400
Standing crop Old field 3,569
Barley 2,500
Field Corn 5,000
Hybrid Corn 8,924
Temperate Grassland 14,277
Corn Silage 26,000
Sorghum Silage 23,600
Climax Deciduous Cove Forest 522,025
Oak-Pine Forest 86,558
Boreal Forest (mean) 178,470
Mature Temperate Zone
Deciduous Forest
Shrublands 53,541
Temperate Evergreen Forest 312,305

Contact the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op, 1319 Grandin Road, Roanoke, 540-343-5652

See Elzebroek, A.T.G. and K. Wind. 2008. Guide to cultivated plants. Oxford University Press, 496pp.

See Organic Food Prices - 2009 and later link >

As Congress debates the Farm Bill (2007) , QuantumShift highlights another reason for them to support organics. Research by the Rodale Institute reveals that sustainably-farmed soil holds up to 30% more carbon than conventional agriculture. Converting US farmland to organic on a wide scale would reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 10%. The extra carbon in the soil also increases food nutrients, which could greatly reduce health care costs. farmer Percy Schmeiser urged the President and Congress to shift existing agricultural subsidies to support sustainable farming practices.
Analytical Plan for Each Species
  1. Common Name (s)
  2. Scientific Name
  3. Likely Habitat
    • Stream
    • Pond
    • Field
    • Forest
    • Fallow
    • Garden
    • Other
  4. Wild Faunal Uses (Actual or potential)
    • Parts used
    • 1 Fruit, 2 hardmast,3 soft mast, 4 winged mast
    • Leaves
    • stems
    • flowers
    • roots
  5. Poisonous to livestock or people (yes no)
  6. Medical value use known (yes, No)
  7. Height (total inches when full grown)
  8. Crown Canopy width (likely in inches)
    • In forest
    • opengrown
  9. Flowers conspicuous (yes, no)
  10. Flower color
  11. Season of blooming
  12. Soil pH Range (low , high)
  13. Soil Texture ( bulk density?)
  14. Amount of sunlight needed
    • 0-low
    • 1 - 6 -
    • more than...
  15. Approximate age at which first fruiting occurs
  16. Pollination (e.g., self pollinating)
  17. Aspect preferred
    • 1 - N
    • 2 - S
    • 3- both
    • 4 = no information
Preliminary Plant List

See Blueberries Group

Consider special garden plots from which food is donated to special needy groups of people.

See John Jeavons, 2008? How to Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine


by Robert H. Giles, Jr.
Last revision: July 1, 2005, Sept 2009
email him rhgiles at vt {dot} edu