First a description of my property:
I am developing a 10 acre site in S.E. Michigan that has laid fallow for more that 30 years. I have about 3 acres of "high ground" and the rest is a lower area that has a creek running through it. The high ground has been mowed for years and even in the middle of summer the grass stays green without any irrigation. The soil is generally sandy, but there is a layer of clay about 7' down on the high ground that comes to the surface in some places of the low ground. My long term goal is a site that will provide food for my family and products to sell. This property is on a main road and there is probably more than 2000 houses within a mile so I'm going to try to have a little produce stand at the road to supplement my income. If my fondest dreams come true, I would gain enough income from this to live off of.
Now to my question - Much of what I find about permaculture is connected to conserving and using all the water that falls on your land. I do not have that problem at all, in fact I suspect I'm a little on the too much water side. 2/3's of my property is classified as being in the flood plain of the creek so the State of Michigan limits the earth moving I can do. How do I go about developing a plan for this site? I've been suffering from "analysis paralysis", that is not being able to development a full plan so I haven't started. This year I just went ahead an planted a few fruit and nut trees and a bunch of raspberries and rhubarb that I removed from another property. Wild black raspberries grow abundantly, so I'm assuming the red ones will do well also.
The more I read about permaculture I see that many of its practitioners get a bunch of plants and seed and just over plant and see what grows. I'm starting down that road with the raspberries and rhubarb as they were free for the digging, and I do have some access to other perennials. But there are some things I want that I will have to pay real money for, such as Honeycrisp Apple trees, and I just do not have enough experience to know find the best place to put them.
You might want to look at Brenda Groth's posts and blog - she lives in your region and has an extensive permaculture garden. One thing to keep in mind about a well watered area is you need less room to grow your food, so the flood plain area could be left essentially untouched as a wildlife refuge and/or you can add edible and useful plants around the edges where they will be less vulnerable to flood damage.
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
posted 8 years ago
I understand what you are saying. We live in the land of 3,000 mm of water a year, that would be 3 meters, or if you prefer, nearly 10 feet! (Tropical Rain forest, you just think you are wet).
Good soil drains, as well as preserves water. Swales are still a good idea, in my opinion, because they prevent runoff which may well be the larger problem for you, washing away of your nutrients. In fact, I would be positioning things so that fertility stays in your system for as long as possible, so making sure drainage from one area passes through another, and you work on the fertility of the upper areas.
On thing I do, a lot, is to place logs against the incline in the plantations. This increases growth of the trees, by forcing the water into the soil, instead of just running across the top. You would be surprised how fast ground can dry out in the tropics.
Here, we say we have two seasons, mud and dust. Mud for 8 months, dust for 2, and 2 months of transition, where you wonder how to build an ark...
Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
If I can locate the personal message area on this new site (??) you are very welcome to send me info on exactly what area of Michigan you live in and I would be very happy to share with you. There are quite a few of us permies here now..I am in the Cadillac, Lake City, Traverse City area myself and will share cuttings and roots of some of the plants to get you started.
I have a mix of clay and sandy areas on the property here. My blog is in my signature so go check it out. We had a huge forested area around us and a beautiful food forest garden which we had to remove a few years ago when we allowed our son to build on our property (the only dry spot left)..so we are basically starting over with the food forests, and we did manage to save a small wooded area North of our house and some trees I planted from seeds and seedlings along the property lines that are full grown now. the rest is all redone as we had a housefire in 2002 which wiped out a lot of our gardens via deconstruction of fire areas and reconstruction..but in the reconstruction I did get myself a small pond..when they removed fill. I understand the regulartions on messing around with wetland areas, but if there is a very low spot that water sits up in for a while..Sepp Holtzer recommends deepening it and widening it a bit at a time, then you aren't really digging a pond, but you are maintaining it..(read his new book). Basically that is what we did here..they removed soil to backfill around new house (4' raised) and it left a low area (on purpose where water stood) and that filled with water most of the year..we were able to get a few days use of a backhoe a few times when it went dry, and the tractor, and we now have quite a nice little pond that hasn't completely gone dry since.
You are lucky to have a slope, ours is nearly flat except where we backfilled around the house up 4'..which did give us a slope all around the house and drainfield, so we have a whole new bunch of microclimates that I've been having fun with.
Hope my blog will be of some help..see below
Bloom where you are planted.
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
posted 8 years ago
I'm in S.E. MI between Ann Arbor and Detriot, so I'm about as far away from you as two people can be in lower MI I'm still hoping to find someone from Permies in my area.