I discover permaculture last november while reading on a french blog.
Since then, i have read this site and read the latest book from Sepp Holzer.
But, for a reason, i don't know how to begin my adventure with permaculture.
To help you, i live in Quebec, Canada. I have a place of about 175 000 s. feet of land. It mostly clay and acid soil. Lots of spruce, tamarack, balsam fir, eastern white-cedar, pine, evergreen grows on the land. We have some trembling aspen and yellow birch.
I would like to lant some green manure. At this point, everythings ok. But, where i get lost, is when it come to plant vegetable. Should i till the land or just throw the veggie seeds i would like to sow?
Usually vegetables are going to do better where they can get some sun. Find a spot to focus on
that looks like it will be suitable during the growing season. The angle of the sun changes so keep
that in mind. Your long term plans may be to plant things everywhere but I recommend finding a
real good site for your first gardening efforts.
If I had the money and time, the 1st thing to do is earthworks and clearing the tree starting form the top of the land.
After that is done (swales/hugelkultur/etc), the next step would be to plant the bare roottrees, then to plant the soil building vegetables.
As the perennial fruits and nuts trees get bigger they will out-compete and kill a few of the vegetable which is ok.
As for your question of which is better till or no till.
Its a very heavy debate personally I would till, destroy the soil structure to get my plants going fast vs taking YEARS.
Hopefully with all the biomass and aeration that I added to the soil, the structure/microbes would recover quickly.
At the very least it would be a one time thing not a every 6-12 months because they are not annuals.
Like you, I am just starting to make plans for our little 1.25 acres in eastern Quebec. Instead of clay, we are on what is locally called "tuf" (actually, slaty schist). Here is a description of the challenges on our site.
From my reading, I get the idea that tilling the ground is rarely a good idea for small-scale permaculture, as it disrupts the soil organisms that are already in place. Because we have very little soil, making tilling irrelevant, I have come to the conclusion that very heavy sheet mulching (lasagna gardening) is the best approach. I am hoping to be able to get used stable bedding from several people I know who have horses.
If I were in your situation, I would use sheet mulching to start some green manure on top of the existing soil. I would also start gathering whatever trees and branches that have fallen and begin making hugelkultur beds. When Sepp Holzer plants his beds, he scatters a mixture of seeds (dozens of types) around the trees and bushes that he has just planted.
We are halfway between Rivière-du-Loup and Trois-Pistoles. Where are you?
I just found something on YouTube that will be useful to both of us, Patrice:
It is called BRF (bois raméal fragmenté - fragmented branch wood). Basically, any brush (branches, bushes) that you clear to make room for gardens, you send it through a shredder and spread on the ground you want to plant, about 10 cm thick. It will smother the grass and bring in nutrients and fungi to build soil fertility and its capacity to hold water.
Very, very inspiring videos on YouTube (in French!!).
The place i live used to be an old pasture. We have a gentle slope facing true south and the house was built in 1983 using solar passive technique. The house and the land always receive plenty of sunligth.
The border around the land is full of mature of different evergreen (pine, fir...) and at the back of the house, stand a hill so that when the wind blow, it kinda pass over the house and the land.
We a have a small river at the end of the slopy terrain. It freeze solid each winter. The house stand above 40 feet high, so we is never flodded.
As for wild flowers, we have: Hieracium pilosella, Hieracium aurantiacum, Vicia cracca, Asclepias syriaca, Erythronium americanum subsp. americanum, Trifolium pratense, Trifolium hybridum L., Trifolium repens L., Erigeron annuus, Taraxacum officinale, and in the wodded lot Clematis virginiana. I have also noted that wild raspberry bush grows on our land as wild small strawberry.
At first, i was tempeted by sowing lots of clovers, lupin, lucerne, rye, buckweat, sunflower, flax and jerusalem artichokes. Following M. Holzer instruction, i would have waited 1 or 2 years and then planated some fruit trees and start a garden.
I was also thinking about making raised bed using old trees.
As for where i live Heidi, i'm in, La Mauricie region in a small village called, Lac-aux-Sables (Sand's lake). Our growing zone is 3b. It's alway humid, both in summer and winter. We have deer, raccons, and sometimes, foxes.
Once again, thank's for all of your comments. I'll try to post some pics of where i live.
Your site sounds much more promising than ours, Patrice, and your ideas sound like they should work pretty well.
Now that I know about BRF, I really think it would be a good approach. They recommend planting nitrogen-fixers (all the plants you mentioned as green manure are perfect) the first year, then whatever you want after that. I would go ahead and start the fruit trees at the same time, as they will take a year to get established in any case, before they can really profit from the improved soil you will be producing. This is an approach I will be taking. Here in Zone 3, our trees grow so slowly that we have to get them started as early as we can!