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Need help on new property

 
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Hi all!

I've got a new property here in Mid Georgia (lived here around 5 months) and I'm in the process of fighting a massive overgrowth and neglect on the back half acre or so. The entire property is about 2 acres, with a large front yard that I'd eventually like to make less monoculture-ish and a backyard that I'd like to keep pretty much as is, for the kids. The area I'm talking about is the far back yard, behind the poolhouse. It's a bit over half an acre of completely overgrown brush, with some trees mixed in and some downed trees towards the middle.  As I'm clearing the underbrush and making it usable, I'm also trying to make plans for making it a mini food forest, or at least a garden area with lots of potential food.

The area is about half an acre, square, mostly even sides. (I'm attaching photos). There are existing trees. Some are loblolly pines, some hardwoods. There is not currently the funds to remove those trees, and the lovely, tall mature trees will need to stay.  A lot of the smaller trees that I can down safely myself will be cut down. The area towards the middle is mostly sunny and unshaded. I'm considering 3ish fruit trees in the middle area.

I'd like to fill this area with edible perennials, as well as native pollinators. Eventually, I'd like to have bees in this area. We already have a chicken coop. I've found a source of ostrich ferns that I'd like to plant underneath some of the trees for fiddleheads next spring. I'm picking up some native rabbiteye blueberries as I see them and planting in groups of 3 (different types).

I want to remove some of the downed trees, but keep a couple and make some hugelkulture swales. (never done this before, advice welcome)

I'm not really sure where to go with the rest of it. I'd like to make some pathways, have some beds of shade-friendly herbs, maybe some additional trees.

What would you do with a similar space?
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pollinator
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If it were me I'd start making compost.  Even if it's piling leaves and snags into bed outlines.   Figure out where you want hugels and start them now or do one hugel and experiment with it.    

For planting out perennials I would start a nursery where everything is in one location.  Start experimenting with what works and is hardy in your area.   That goes for flowers, fruiting bushes, trees, nitrogen fixers, etc.   Once you get these in the ground you can teach yourself to propagate by doing hard and softwood cuttings,

air layering and etc.   Having a stock nursery will save you money, it's convenient and it's very fun to experiment to see what works.  

If you are doing true permaculture you will have lots of suggestions coming in on how to plant and plan. I'm doing more of a food forest but putting in a nursery is in my opinion the first step on the road to learning your plot.  

During the colonial period the orchard went in the ground before the house.  :-)  

My two cents.
 
gardener
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Looks like a nice property Chloe. Welcome to permies. Your land seems to have some significant slope so I suggest marking the contours & taking a good look at the land from a water retention & conservation perspective. Try to figure out where swales will be most effective & maybe save some problems later.
 
Chloe Bowie
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@Scott Foster, Can you expand a bit on the nursery concept? I'm interested in the idea. Is it essentially buying a few plants, then nurturing them until they're big enough to take cuttings or propagate? I like this idea since I'm reclaiming the area a bit at a time, and it will probably take me a few years to even get to some areas.
 
Chloe Bowie
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Mike Barkley wrote:Looks like a nice property Chloe. Welcome to permies. Your land seems to have some significant slope so I suggest marking the contours & taking a good look at the land from a water retention & conservation perspective. Try to figure out where swales will be most effective & maybe save some problems later.



I'm beginning to figure out where the water is going on the property. I stood outside in the last heavy rain and watched. There's some natural dry creekbeds where most of the water tends to run, and I'm hoping to introduce some natural rock to help keep the water going in that direction.

If I were making a swale, would I make it cross directly in the path of the water? I'm struggling with this concept and where to place them. I've also seen stories of catastropic failure of some of them. (catching too much water) and I want to make sure whatever I put in place is safe and effective.
 
Chloe Bowie
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On the plus side, the soil looks lovely in the places I've dug. There's some of that red Georgia clay, but the years of having everything drop to the ground and decay in place have made some nice, rich hummus and not many places of straight clay. I'm feeling encouraged that I can make this area a haven for native plants, pollinators and edibles.
 
gardener
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Chloe,

Your land looks beautiful.  However, judging from the pictures you posted, it looks very shady as well.  Is it your plan to plant in the shady area or are you planning on thinning the trees a bit.

If you were going to thin the trees then I would say conserve your wood.  Perhaps you can use branches/trunks for building.  Maybe you could chip everything up and have lots of mulch.  But I would caution against burning.  I have learned over the years that wood is almost always valuable if viewed as a resource and there are plenty of people on Permies who wished they had more access to wood.

Just my thoughts, but I am curious if you plan to thin or plant in shade.  

Please keep us posted,

Eric
 
Scott Foster
pollinator
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@chloe,  

Hi Chloe, I plant seeds, cuttings, small plants for standby.  The sky is the limit.   In one long bed, I have seeds from butternut, pear, and culled perennial flowers, further down the bed I have a bunch of baby mulberry trees, various berry cuttings, and comfrey as a border.

Once the weather improves and If my air layering takes I will be adding 3 types of hazelnuts and Kazakhstan apples.   If I have to I will start another bed right next to it or extend the existing bed.  

I plant comfrey with every tree I plant and I surround my beds with it to stop grass.  I don't know where I'm going to put all of the comfrey but it is available when I need it.    

I'm trying to do the same thing with perennial flowers and other items I plant in trios.   I started doing this with mint, garlic chive, comfrey, multiple types of flowering perennials, berry bush cuttings, hazelnut, black locust etc.  I'm going to try this with perennial white clover and see If I can pull up small section like sod.  

who knows it might work.  Last year I planted a big bed of asparagus that I would like to move into small island trios...we will see if the seedlings made it.  

I find that when I plant seeds next to trees, say calendula or something like that I may lose track and plant or chip over the seeds.  If I have a bed
for the babies I keep better track of what I have.  

When I started my forest garden, permaculture orchard or hack garden :-)  I tried to plant large areas at once.  It didn't take me long to focus on islands and work out.  I have purchased trees but the further along the garden gets the more I want to do everything from cuttings or via some kind of propagation.
 
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Location: Lehigh Valley, PA zone 6b
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I haven’t put any of this in yet, but my small lot has a lot of shade, so I’ve been researching understory trees/shrubs, and fruit trees that can produce in shade.

Sour cherries, typically used for jams and pies, are said to produce well in shade, and they’re self-fertile. The variety I’m looking at is Morello.

Hazelnuts
Gooseberry
Currents (different varietals have different light needs, but from what I’ve read, most will produce something even in fairly heavy shade)
Some plums
Some pears
Blackberries and raspberries
Eric Toenmeister, who has written a number of books in temperate permaculture, is a huge proponent of ramps.
Pawpaws are pretty happy to start in light shade, if I recall correctly.

There are also a wide variety of leafy greens and brassicas that produce well in shade.

That’s what I can think of off the top of my head. Again, I haven’t put any of this in yet, and I’m sure other people can offer more expert advice. Hope this helps.
 
Chloe Bowie
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Eric Hanson wrote:Chloe,

Your land looks beautiful.  However, judging from the pictures you posted, it looks very shady as well.  Is it your plan to plant in the shady area or are you planning on thinning the trees a bit.

If you were going to thin the trees then I would say conserve your wood.  Perhaps you can use branches/trunks for building.  Maybe you could chip everything up and have lots of mulch.  But I would caution against burning.  I have learned over the years that wood is almost always valuable if viewed as a resource and there are plenty of people on Permies who wished they had more access to wood.

Just my thoughts, but I am curious if you plan to thin or plant in shade.  

Please keep us posted,

Eric



Hi Eric,

I'm planning to do a bit of both. I don't have the funds to clear it completely, And I'm kind of loathe to do so anyway. I'm going to split the difference and clear out a lot of the thinner/smaller trees to open up some more sunny areas, and work in herbs and ferns and shade friendly plants where the bigger trees are. So I'm particularly interested in understory plants that will be happy sharing the shade produced by some of the larger trees.
 
Chloe Bowie
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@scott, that sounds like a good idea for me. I've been planning on going ahead and starting to plant the area I've reclaimed, even though I'm not even close to reclaiming all of it. So a nursery might be a good start for now, and I can get it established while I work on the rest.
 
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Location: Zone 7a, 42", Fairfax VA Piedmont (clay, acidic, shady)
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You could start felling some pine to build a terrace system on your slopes, and maybe a hugel in your flats.  Be sure to leave your terraces wide open enough to be able to mow your rows.  You could also do a partial thin, plant your fruit/nut trees to enjoy the shade and need less water, and then do a fuller thin later on.  I put down a LOT of log-based terraces on more "natural" slopes where I didn't want to use machines, and more open terraces on areas where I wanted to aerate, mow, seed, and potentially even till a little.

I cut most of my native scrub-bush down, and keep trimming it each year to encourage root rot and soil development.  I noticed that forests can give you good leaf-mold soils... but can also encourage their erosion on slopes, stripping your leaf-mold soils down to that nasty red clay.  So stop erosion.  Can you slow the water before it hits your dry creek beds?
 
Just put the cards in their christmas stocking and PRESTO! They get it now! It's like you're the harry potter of permaculture. richsoil.com/cards
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