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Finding Pattern on a Square Land?

 
William James
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Location: Northern Italy
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I was reading gaia's garden (again) and I got to the part about planning in the design process. The idea is to work from pattern to details, and he suggests to try to find one natural pattern that can really "tie things together" (my words). Basically you get a pattern that nature recognizes, and nature can work more efficiently for you.

The corollary to this is that you don't just arbitrarily pick a shape because you like spirals or whatever.

Now. I'm using a square piece of land. Not a very natural shape. I'm not seeing any natural pattern emerge. It's bordered on 2 sides with trees and 2 sides are open. 1 side has a gravel road, 1 side a earthen road. The latter road is on the land I'm using, everything else is beyond my control.

I guess I could go the way of the "leaf" pattern, since it might cut down on bringing things in and out.

I'm planning to find the contours, to give it some shape. Also planning to keyline plow between / in line with the swales. In the long term I was thinking about mini-rain-ponds in crucial spots along the contour.

The other idea is vegetables>small fruit>fruit trees, even if that's kind of a backward way to do things. That's the way we've chosen since it agrees with our experience and are knowledge of the land we're working.

Any other suggestions?

Or would the best route (given that it's 2.5 acres) be to just micro manage about 10 "spots" and let nature fill in the rest, trying to take advantage of whatever comes my way?

Thanks,
William

ps: there's also the nagging question of Tessilation but right now that's beyond me.







 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Is it possible to post a satellite or topographical picture of the land? Personally I would try to base the patterns on contours, which can be very subtle but exist even on "flat" land.
 
William James
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here 'tis. up is north.

there's a dividing line between the two fields. I'm on the northern half.
thanks.
campo2a.jpg
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Marc Troyka
pollinator
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Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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Pink = garden
Red, Orange, Yellow, Green = stuff!
Blue = center, maybe a big tree
White = main paths

These are just the main latent centers in the land, but I haven't specified much of what to actually do with them. You can only know that by doing lots of observation, figuring out what the most important thing is to do, and do that. You might additionally put in thick boundaries of some sort, around the individual areas, and/or around the whole property.

campopattern.jpg
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James Slaughter
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Referring to the colour coding, I would think GREEN and ORANGE would be good zones for veg, PINK would be good for deciduous fruit trees (afternoon shade and potential wind break for prevalent winds), evergreen hedging to the south (can even eventually replace the fencing, depending on how your neighbour would view this), RED and YELLOW would be ideal for livestock runs (especially if the trees next door have invasive roots) also allowing easy rotation into your green and orange veg zones for weeding and manuring in between seasons. Centrally located (BLUE) natural pond / dam, to attract frogs and beneficial insects, and provide a source of emergency water in times of drought. You could also locate any livestock shelter next to here as a means to capture rain runoff from the roofs. Cheers.
 
John Polk
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If you want 'natural shapes', I look at the left edge and see half a tear drop.
Duplicate it on the right, and you have a 'water drop' for your Zone 1.

 
Shawn Aune
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Before I did any planning outside of the pink (or blue) area I would cover the property with red, crimson and white dutch clover seed and simply watch for a year. You will learn a lot.

Does the little patch in the upper right belong to you? The one that's overgrown and green looking? If so a walk through there could tell you much about existing species and growing conditions.

Any indicator plants? I expect plantains and lambsquarters.

I love the idea of a central pond with hugelkulture beds forming an L in the SW corner and a 7 in the NE. Could switch that up depending on the wind.
 
Morgan Morrigan
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Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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Love the old ribbon strip layout, just read about it on Wired, about how it was so designed to get everything to the road.

I would put triangles in each corner, out of dwarf nut and citrus, outlined with vines , and leave the large center rhomboid for flexible beds.

 
William James
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Here's what I imagined doing for the first round of treatment. What most people are suggesting here is a kind of "final plan", but to get there I have to do a few treatments (in my mind).

First I wanted to do small swales (50-60cm) for water catchment/management. Planning to make them 20 meters or so apart. The ones you see is the way I imagine the swales are set up based on
-pooling of water I've observed on the south end
-the fact that the west road seems to make a swale already
-the fact that the drainage ditch probably is there to collect water.
-there's another drainage ditch on the west side after the road that's covered with trees.

2nd, sow roots and legumes for biomass building.

3rd, make some vegetable beds on the north end. (Fall 2013 -winter veggies need less water)

4th, make some ponds for more water catchment (there's no water here). Bigger ponds on south side. Will probably pump water back up to the top.
Plus if I wanted fruit trees in the future, I might have to direct winter/spring water away from them, so draining/ponds seem like a good idea.

5th, in the fall expand the vegetable beds southward into spaces previously cropped for biomass. (Spring 2014 - need more water in spring summer)

6th, start planting perennials in the wake of the vegetable beds to get a polyculture.

As for natural plans, I like the idea of a tree drop for the space around the "bunker", but isn't that also (more or less) a leaf without the inroads?

Plus I'm trying to stay away from the bunker because there is a corrugated asbestos roof there, wouldn't want the fibers on the vegetables.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far,
William
campo2b.jpg
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Brenda Groth
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before I saw the second photo I was going to suggest a lovely curve to go along with your curve that is naturally there..and low and behold duh..the second photo has a curve..

it just seems natural to me that you would want to use a curve.

on OUR property, we had a 60 x 60 raised drainfield behind our house..and it led me to use a circular pattern of lawn with planting around it (see my blog or maps)..so I went with circles..and curves on my property, the circles are OK but I totally LOVE the curves..they really work well for me..

curves are so easy to maintain..esp with equipment, corners are difficult to deal with and straight lines but curves..what a pleasure
 
Paul Cereghino
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You might consider wind -- which way come desiccating freezing wind, what about wind storms that knock stuff down?
Is you soil going to hold water for ponds?
Sun... your parcel isn't that big if you get into nut trees of timber. Check out Mollison's sun-trap parabolas.
I like my trails to make circuits out into the land and back again with different loops depending on purpose or season or mood.
"Form follows function"
 
John Polk
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I like my trails to make circuits out into the land and back again with different loops depending on purpose or season or mood.


Very good point. On each trip out, you get to observe more, on the trip in.
You carry fresh greens to your hens, and come home with eggs.
You've observed double your area, rather than the same area twice.



 
William James
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Here are some more images to give you an idea of how things effect other things at this plot.

campo_sun.jpg
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campo_water.jpg
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campo_wind.jpg
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William James
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Paul Cereghino wrote:You might consider wind -- which way come desiccating freezing wind, what about wind storms that knock stuff down?
Is you soil going to hold water for ponds?


I'm pretty sheltered by the surrounding trees.
The soil is hard clay. It holds water. Might need a little sodium bentonite, but my experience is that if you dig deep enough in the right place, water sticks around.

Paul Cereghino wrote:
Sun... your parcel isn't that big if you get into nut trees of timber. Check out Mollison's sun-trap parabolas.
I like my trails to make circuits out into the land and back again with different loops depending on purpose or season or mood.
"Form follows function"


I'll check those sun-traps out. Probably on the back sides of the ponds, or on the north/north-east edge. Thought about making ponds key points and branching out from there. Probably more for fruit production. Maybe hazelnut or small nut bushes/trees. Timber could be gotten by coppicing the invasive black locust trees that will surely be arriving. Already saw some black locust babies out there.

So, I'm assuming that my function is rain collection and management, being that I have no water and whatever I grow will need water. Plus water brings wildlife which, in general is lacking in the area.

William
 
John Polk
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Plus water brings wildlife which, in general is lacking in the area.


Yes. If you capture and hold water, "they" will find it. They will never forget where they find water.
That means that your plantings will need to accommodate them also. Hopefully, enough plants that they prefer to yours will keep them happy, and out of your harvest.

 
Paul Cereghino
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I wonder about funneling summer breeze for the house? I wonder about the potential for the road to collect water on the uphill side? If you are on a water shedding site, and you don't have evidence of surface or sub-surface water, I wonder if you can sustain ponds through your dry season? In which case, you might be looking at swale systems rather than ponds. Given temperature... might one big pond provide better temperature refuge for living things than many small ponds? It might be good to see if you can find someone in the neighborhood with surface water. You might dig lots of holes particularly where you see changes in veg pattern to make sure you know your whole soil system--look for evidence of water in the soils.
 
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