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not even a beginner yet, is this a good place to post?

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Hi, i haven't seen a forum marked beginners etc. so I'm using this one.
I want to start from somewhere. I've read that permaculture teaches you start by just observing.  I hope to start a land observation journal and would appreciate any advice for doing that.
We haven't done much with the place we're in because we've had this plan to leave. (The plan hasn't gone well.) Since we've been here this long I think we should try to take some baby steps.
We rent land south of Santa Cruz CA (zone 9b?)  (about 36.91 -121.76) There is almost an acre. We have dogs. There were goats grazing here previously. It's level and grows plenty of grass (and foxtails). My wife has planted a few things that the soil was too hard for or that got eaten by something.
Mint creeps up out of the concrete patio. There's a lot of either mallow or amaranth. There's a blackberry bush in the southeast corner.
An ex-apple tree at the south wall.
At the east wall are plum trees and a black walnut tree.
Theres a compost pile in the NE corner.
Let me know if you can suggest anything to start observing--Sunrise, sunset, wind, shade, plants, birds, rodents ...
Thanks for anything
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Hi, I'm not a major expert either. What I can tell you is check with your local permaculture contact Also your local greenhouse and nursery will help they are in the biz to sell plants and will answer questions because they want your custom. Organic fertilizers are good but remember smells like poop, must be poop. As for the  garden, plan, plan, and plan some more. Test your ground to see if its acidic or needs some other additive. Read the seed packs and plant sticks to be sure of your growing season, and temps the plans like. Example peas like cool weather do not do well in heat, tomatoes do well in heat. You might want to check out the southwest U.S.A forum on this website. Good luck and be diligent.

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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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You're on the right track with observing the elements. On windy days, walk about the different areas and notice the sheltered and exposed spots, and notice which direction it comes from. For instance...here at my farm; cold winter winds from the northwest, and storms often come from the east. I get many winds from the south but they are extremely warm and light usually. Also, go out after a rain and notice if there are wet spots, or extremely dry spots. Even on flattish land it is worth looking into. Also take note of the sunny and shady spots, at different times of the day. Use these to your advantage.

Taking stock of whats growing there already is another good start. I think its important to keep (and make use of) as many of the existing plants around as you can. Mallow makes a good salad green. Amaranth's young leaves are a decent addition to salads, though some consider it a bit tough. It is nice when steamed. The seeds can be popped like popcorn aparently. Walnut does have a root chemical excretion that inhibits the growth of many plants but many others are fine with it. It's good to have a concentrated protein source onsite. Not sure if it's possible in your warm zone but here in my area walnuts can be tapped for their sap when nights are just below freezing and days are slightly above.

I'd suggest getting the book 'Gaia's Garden' by Toby Hemenway. It is a very straight forward home-scale permaculture book. Edible Forest Gardens volume one and two are another source I'd recommend. It's a bit more technical and in depth than Gaia's Garden but is a wealth of information. The  plant species index in the back is worth it alone I tthink. Both books are based on north america's climate. 'Perennial Vegetables' by Eric Toensmeier is a good one too but it is more of just a list of plants, and less well rounded than the other two books.

What do you mean by an 'ex-apple tree' ? A dead-standing tree, or an apple tree that doesn't bare fruit anymore?'
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Location: North Central Michigan
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you can search black walnut on here and find out what plants grow well under your black walnut and see if there are any you would like to try..also you might want to start a small forest garden guild under your plum tree..put in some dynamic accumulators, nitrogen fixers and pollinator food plants at least, if you don't want to do something expensive and permanent at least put some beans or peas or clover to fix nitrogen, a packet of wildflower seeds for your pollinator and some of those could be accumulators too..that will give you something to do right away while you observe
michaelson alexander
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thank you all so much. Yes the apple tree is dead.
I should have mentioned that there's also a purple blooming thing she says is mustard or wild radish.
and halfway between the east wall and the back door is a kiddie pool for the dogs and about between that and the wall is a chicken coop and mini-shed. I like the idea of giving ourselves pullets for christmas but the dogs are already an all day job.
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