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Permaculture in Maine, Zone 4/5-is it feasible?  RSS feed

 
William Toles
Posts: 10
Location: Skowhegan, Maine
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Is this a feasible idea, or not- it may be too harsh up here in central Maine.
 
Adrien Lapointe
steward
Posts: 3413
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
195
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Of course it is! There are people doing it here in the Saint-Lawrence river valley and in many other colder places all over Canada and the US. sepp holzer even have project in Siberia! You just need to adapt the design and the plants you choose.

Here is a website that could help you find plants that will work in your climate. It is a list for the Canadian prairie, but it is applicable to Maine as well.
 
Craig Dobbson
master steward
Posts: 1727
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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Although I'm only getting started on the path of Permaculture, I can say that it sure seems feasible on the midcoast of Maine. Since getting started earlier this year, I've been able to seriously increase the amount of food, fodder and fertility on my land. I've not brought in any outside inputs aside from my flock of chickens and a little bit of feed for them (about 20% of their diet). It certainly seems that I could reach my goal of food independence within 5 years if I stick with it.
I don't see why it wouldn't be possible just about anywhere on the planet.
In Brooks ME, there is the New Forest Institute, which is practicing permaculture to some degree of success so far as I can see. You might want to check them out as an example.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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I'm and a zone 4/5 area of North central lower penninsula of Michigan and I can grow a LOT of stuff..we do have some tricky weather, but not every year.

This year we had very late frosts that killed all of our fruit tree buds and we had a drought..but generally we can get fruit just fine and droughts are not generally that bad in the summer..as they were this year.

you can check out on my blog what I grow here..I am in a valley here but even more can be grown up on the higher hills
 
Paulo Bessa
pollinator
Posts: 356
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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Yes you can do it.

I live in Iceland, we have cold summers, colder than most Alaska and even Siberia.

I know that Maine has much nicer summers than us, even by the coast. We often get cold northern winds throughout the summer.

What do I grow? Rye, barley, oats. Potatoes, sunchokes. Kales, broccoli, lettuce, argula, carrots, parsnips, swedes and turnips. Strawberries, raspberries, currants and blueberries. Broad beans and peas. With some shelter, sunflowers, squash and beans.
Beans need a really good shelter, in a south facing wall, without wind. Even with that I can't grow yet tomatoes or pumpkins outside.

Be sure to have a rich and well-mulched soil (because you already have the cold climate as a limiting factor). We have sheltering (already pre-existing) poplar, rowan, spruce and birch. But any tree in Iceland takes long time to grow tall.

I am currently working to add more perennials. So far I have perennial onions, skirret, lovage and rhubarb. I want to introduce mulberries, asparagus, chinese yams, siberian pea and arrowhead. We also can't grow any fruit trees (only by the coast, where spring frosts are mild), but breeding is currently under work. Hope this helps you!



William Toles wrote:Is this a feasible idea, or not- it may be too harsh up here in central Maine.
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Well, I hope so, since I just bought 7 acres in Central Maine on which to homestead!

It seems to me that we've got a pretty great situation up here. A good amount of rain, which seems to be more important with every passing year. Rural, but not ridiculously remote. Lots of trees, for fuel and food and building. Lots of wonderful food plants grow well in this climate - apples, pears, berries, greens, brassicas, grains, etc. You can get great tender crops without a greenhouse - my tomatoes are looking awesome, and I plan to grow all sorts of nightshades, beans, peas, etc. We've got mosquitoes (well, not at my house, but not everybody has my luck) and ticks and in some places and times, black flys, but no venomous snakes and just a handful of brown recluses. Yeah, the winters can get cold, but our summers are spectacular, and just perfectly long enough to get a great harvest. Occasionally, we can see the Northern Lights. We often have to build up our soils, but that's what stewardship (and composting) is all about. We maybe don't have the Northwest's biodiversity and mild climate, but we also don't have their grey days after days. All this, and a short drive to the ocean!
 
Craig Dobbson
master steward
Posts: 1727
Location: Maine (zone 5)
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I couldn't have put it any better than that Jessica.

The Black Fly can be a real bother but with proper dress and a tolerance to the annoyance they can be dealt with. My chickens seem to like to eat them and they often follow me around knowing that I'll attract a swarm of the little buggers. So I guess that's just a little more feed that we don't have to buy early in the season.
Best of luck with your new land.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1091
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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William Toles wrote:Is this a feasible idea, or not- it may be too harsh up here in central Maine.


Yes. I used to live near Augusta, Maine. Its climate was a little warmer than where we are now in Vermont. Our zone here in the central northern Vermont mountains is about 3 to 4 and we do well. We can grow everything we need on our land. We farm - its our full time job and pays all the bills so that we are able to buy some luxuries like Internet, computers, iPods, ice cream, chocolate, etc. We do live frugally, and in a pinch can tighten back further. Zone 3/4 works for permaculture - that's the basis of our farm.
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1091
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Craig Dobbelyu wrote:The Black Fly can be a real bother but with proper dress and a tolerance to the annoyance they can be dealt with. My chickens seem to like to eat them and they often follow me around knowing that I'll attract a swarm of the little buggers. So I guess that's just a little more feed that we don't have to buy early in the season.


Years ago we used to have a lot of black flies, deer flies and mosquitoes. Then we got chickens. Lots of chickens. We have several hundred free ranging through the paddocks following the larger livestock. We're basically pest free. It's wonderful. The government could drop chickens all over to ward off the mosquitos to fight EEE and West Nile Virus. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Nope, just chicken littles!"
 
wayne boardman
Posts: 13
Location: Southern Maine, nudged by climate change into zone 6a
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With the coming climate change, Maine could be very well positioned, at least relatively speaking. The summers will get hotter, but we may not have the extremes of heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. that much of the country is experiencing and will experience. So far, rainfall and snowfall have been fairly reliable, but permaculture practices will help no matter what happens.
 
William Toles
Posts: 10
Location: Skowhegan, Maine
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Thanks for all of the input on this question; I certainly have had my eyes opened on this.
 
Nick Kitchener
Posts: 475
Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Paulo Bessa wrote:Yes you can do it.

I live in Iceland, we have cold summers, colder than most Alaska and even Siberia...

I am currently working to add more perennials. So far I have perennial onions, skirret, lovage and rhubarb. I want to introduce mulberries, asparagus, chinese yams, siberian pea and arrowhead. We also can't grow any fruit trees (only by the coast, where spring frosts are mild), but breeding is currently under work. Hope this helps you!


Have you considered Amelanchier (we call them Saskatoons)?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelanchier

They also provide excellent wood for archery bows.

It grows well here and we get down below -30C without wind chill.
 
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