Hey y’all. I’ve got a little more than six acres of steep (I think mostly 30-50%) mountain (3200ft) land about 25min from Asheville. It’s acidic cove forest (pretty overgrown with laurel and rhododendron) with lots of mature trees of different types (oak, poplar, maple, locus, etc. don’t know much about trees). There are some old logging roads (probably 100yrs old) that form a few terraces. I built myself a little cabin on a short, wide one. Most of the land isn’t terraced though. The ground is covered in a pretty deep leaf litter layer, then some black soil full of stringy roots, then red clay. There’s a super productive spring that’s tapped near the road that runs through the lower portion of the property with a spring head bubbling up around the upper-middle. I want to get started making this land into a homestead i can use to sustain myself and bring in a little income. I’m afraid that lacking a breadth of knowledge about this stuff I’ll accidentally destroy things that are already producing that I don’t know about on the land. If you were me what would you do with this little slice of mountain rainforest?
what direction is your slope facing? I'm on the other side of the smokies, my slopes face almost north and just found out last fall that ginseng grows all over the place and just the past couple weeks people been coming around the area hunting mushrooms, morels and hen of the woods is what they say their after. with all those trees you should have wild mushrooms there too, do some googling and there are very good guides online.
I want to wish you luck with your farming efforts, but if the land is that steep and facing NW, you are going to be working against nature to cultivate anything but trees. You may be able to make some money cutting mature trees for lumber or selling logs for plywood or some craft using wood, but I wouldn't advise expending a lot of time and effort on trying to grow veggies. Your mountain will block most of the sunlight and leave you with days too short for most food crops. Even a greenhouse won't help much if it is shaded by trees all year.
I'm a certified Permaculture Designer, and the first things I advise my clients who are buying land is: 1. south-facing gentle slope, 2. dependable water source, 3. long enough growing season, and 4. good soil. Soil can be built up over time. A greenhouse or hoops can extend the season. Water can be trucked in or collected during rains. But, nothing can be done about building on the north side of a mountain. I'm sure you bought that parcel because it was inexpensive, and I completely understand that, but you may want to chalk this one up to experience and look for something on the other side of the mountains. Homesteading an undeveloped plot is hard enough with good land, but it can be downright miserable on the wrong land.
Joy and abundance, Cory
Location: Bought the farm and moved from Maine to western tip of Virginia.
Garrett, I've been thinking about you and your 6 acres. You might try raising mushrooms or ginseng or other shade loving plants that grow naturally in the woods. You may even find them growing wild in your woods. If you have oyster ferns on your property, the fiddleheads can be harvested in early spring before they unroll into fern leaves. There are many medicinal herbs that grow wild in wooded areas. Mushrooms can be harvested whenever they appear. Wild American ginseng is a protected species that can only be harvested Sep - Dec after the berries fall off. You can also cultivate American and Asian varieties from seed or seedlings, but they take several years to mature. All of these examples sell for high prices (much more per pound than lettuce and even tomatoes), so you might find a niche in these specialty crops.
Joy and abundance, Cory
Of course, I found a very beautiful couch. Definitely. And this tiny ad: