My wife are buying some land
(~15 acres) in east Texas (zone
. Our plan is to work on improving it for a few years using permaculture
methods, and to build a house and move out there within 5-10 years (as finances, telecommuting, etc. allow).
We are in the process of learning more about permaculture
, but there is so much to learn! Right now we are going through an online video course from UNC, and I'm listening to relevant podcasts on TSP
. I've read some of the relevant posts on this forum, but probably not nearly as much as I need to. I don't think
we will be able to get through all the information we want to before it's time to start planting things and distributing seeds. I'm hoping y'all will be willing to help us figure out the correct intial steps so that we don't miss a key planting date and end up a year behind on some of the long-term major improvements that we want/need to make. Property overview
-Located in Zone 8
-Average rainfall varies from 28-48 inches.
-Wind is primarily from the west and south, except when a big cold front comes in from the north in the winter.
-High temperatures this year exceeded 100* for almost 2 months straight, and north Texas went without significant rainfall for about 3 months this year.
-Approximately 15 acres
-Current use for most of it is cattle
-Rectangular in shape, about twice as long as it is wide. The long axis is east to west
-There's a slope running north to south (generally) but it's slight, probably less than 1' in 100.
-Road runs along on the west end of the property. There's some brush along the fence
, but it's not deep.
-Eastern edge of the property is trees
, at least 20-30'H
-South edge of the property is cattle pasture. No significant vegetation along the border line.
-North edge is a hay
field(?) with trees along the fenceline.
-Approximately 2/3 of the way into the property, there is a tree-lined seasonal creekbed that runs from south to north. The creekbed is approximately 3' deep at its deepest, and up to 6-10' wide at its largest. There is a point near the south border where we can put in a culvert and make a rough vehicle bridge fairly easily.
-Along and about 20' inside of the south property line is another seasonal drainage area that runs west to east into the creekbed. It's 2-3' deep and approximately 12' wide.
-The soil is sandy, with very little organic material. Grass roots
do not appear to go very deep. West of the creek area, the grass is scrubby and sparse. East of the creek, the grass is greener and taller, but there is still not very much organic matter in the soil.
is on-site right now. We would prefer to wait and drill a well vs. getting treated city/county water on-site and having to run it 800' in from the road.
-There is a power line running north-south approximately 75-125' east of the road. No trees next to the power line for obvious reasons. Goals and Questions
In general, we want to improve the soil quality and biodiversity
on the land. We specifically want to plant a large number of food-producing trees, bushes, etc., on the property, both to feed
ourselves and to attract and feed deer
for protein. We will probably leave the area east of the creek as "wild" with minimal intervention beyond adding some food producers that will mostly be left alone. When we move out there, we'll do some type of garden, and have some free-ranging chickens
for eggs. My wife wants to raise rabbits
too, so we probably will. Hedge
We want to put a hedge around the property (or at least the open areas where there aren't trees) for privacy and to reduce outside noise, light, etc. Tagasaste is apparently not available in the US, so we have tentatively settled on Elaeagnus Pungens. It's drought resistant, produces fruit
that's semi-edible (birds like it), fixes nitrogen, birds and bees
like it, etc. It grows to a dense bush up to 10'H/10'W.
Growing conditions listed online make it loko like it will grow almost anywhere. http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Elaeagnus+pungens
The propagation section at the link makes it look like we'll have to germinate the seeds and plant each seedling individually. That's a lot of work for 1500-2000' of border area! Is there a way this could be more efficiently done, such as putting down a lot of seeds and hoping some of them come up, planting the fruit intact for this purpose, etc.? If so, what would y'all suggest, and how do we keep it from being choked out early by other plants?
It says it prefers well-drained soil. Does that mean that using a trenching machine (or something like that) to create a small swale
and chop up some of the competition would be a bad idea? Soil quality in the open areas
As mentioned, there is very little organic matter in the soil. What kind of (very heat/drought tolerant) cover crop can we broadcast seeds for that will help add organic matter and improve soil quality (nutrition, water retention, etc)? Ground cover under trees
The area around the creek has trees, but the area under the trees is mostly bare soil with some clay exposed underneath in the creekbed. That bare soil is going to be eroded away over time. What sort of shade-hardy plant can we put in to help prevent erosion?
We'd prefer to be able to still walk under the trees and use the area, so I am hoping there is some type of grass that can be used, rather than a woody shrub that would turn into semi-impassable underbrush. Wildlife, ground
We want to attract deer, and will probably put a mineral lick in the back (wild) area farthest from the road and closest to the existing wooded areas. However, we do not want them to chow down on all the food-bearing trees we hope to plant. I don't think we can get enough
human hair for all of the trees, and we don't want to break the bank on deer fencing. Any economical suggestions?
There are feral hogs in the area. If we have yummy fruit and nuts, they will come whether we want them to or not... hopefully the barbed wire fencing will at least make them work to get in. Same with the coyotes, except that fencing will not keep them out. Both are considered vermin by the state and can be shot on sight. Hogs breed too darn fast. If we kill one and take the meat, or if we take a deer, what's the best way to deal with the intestines? I am afraid that if we bury them it will just attract coyotes to dig them up. If we are in the process of planting trees at the time, we could use them as fertilizer, but if not... what can we do so that they will end up composting
into the soil rather than attracting animals we don't want? Wildlife, air
More birds means fewer grasshoppers, mosquitos, etc., and more bird poop
improving the soil. I think I've found a birdhouse design suitable for low-cost mass production ( http://www.stokesbirdsathome.com/birding/housing/housingpages/housing104.html
). We'll be scattering as many as I can stand to make over the western 2/3 of the property. I'll probably experiment with different hole sizes to see if it makes a difference.
Is there anything specific we can do to help keep the birds from destroying any population of ladybugs?
We don't want large predatory birds, because they will probably find chicks and chickens
to be nice
slow-moving targets. Probably not much we can do to discourage them from living in the area though, given how large of a territory they cover.
(truncated for length, trees & end to go in reply)