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The edible ranch project  RSS feed

 
Gary Stuart
Posts: 27
Location: Wakefield, Quebec, zone 3b/4a CAN
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A few days ago I was asked to get serious and make edible landscaping a large part of this property. But a little backstory first...

In October my small family moved onto a 'ranch and retreat' property as onsite caretakers, exchanging rent for work. The ranch is about 45 minutes north of Ottawa, generally zone 3b/4a (Canadian) with many micro climates, and has been in the same family for over 40 years, now belonging to two brothers. They agreed to let us bring our chickens and goats and start a veggie garden here and maintain our slightly odd fascination with self-sufficient living. We're still very new to homesteading and permaculture, so I expect to use this forum a lot and still possibly get many things wrong, I am far from qualified but I am willing to try.

Most of the rolling 50 acre property is overly grazed horse pasture, a large mixed-wood forest, a 10 acre spring-fed lake, swamp, rental chalets and short-mowed lawn. Top soil is thin, and everything below it is sand or rock. We're the first caretakers to have any interest in gardening/farming/homesteading and a few days ago one of the brothers asked me to really get serious with edible landscaping. Fruit trees, berries, mushrooms, herb gardens, etc.

Now, I don't get a carte blanche to do whatever I want, everything has to go through the owners, and their main criteria is that it has to fit their 'look' and be presentable to guests. Their 'look' is generally straight lines with everything neat and tidy which is why the garden beds we started builing in October are simple, straight raised beds. I'll need to introduce the concept of curves and spirals gradually, probably using the private yard of our cabin here to show them the possibilities. Our yard is 76'x48', flat and surrounded by forest, so figuring out a plan for that should be... interesting.

At this moment in time the ranch is buried until several feet of snow, so I am firmly in the research stage and there will be little progress within the next month. Pics are largely useless for now too as eveything is white, though there will be many to come eventually. And hopefully, maintaining the project thread will help to keep me on the right track.

Any and all comments, questions, suggestions etc. are greatly appreciated.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Hello, Gary! Some of the most exciting information about restoration agriculture was recently discussed here by Mark Shepard. You might be able to introduce some of this info to the owners.

His website and to purchase his book: http://restorationag.org/

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb_t-sVVzF0
 
Gary Stuart
Posts: 27
Location: Wakefield, Quebec, zone 3b/4a CAN
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Hey Ludi

I'll check it out, but I'm under no illusions that the owners will. One of them doesn't particularly care about the edible landscaping project, and the other wants it and wants to like the final product, but I don't know how much he cares about the hows and whys and research. That's my job

So not only do I need to understand what I am doing, but I'll need to be able to break it down into layman's terms too, if they do ever ask about it.

Daunting and exciting.
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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It sounds really cool. I don't know much about what grows in your climate, but the more attractive edible landscape plants may be a good beginning. Burnt Ridge Nursery has some very ornamental hazelnut trees, for instance.

This may be a good place to start: http://www.rosalindcreasy.com/plant-recommendations-zones-3-5/
 
Gary Stuart
Posts: 27
Location: Wakefield, Quebec, zone 3b/4a CAN
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Thank you for the link Renate! It's very hard to imagine planting alpine strawberries with more snow forecast overnight, but the day will come...
 
Gary Stuart
Posts: 27
Location: Wakefield, Quebec, zone 3b/4a CAN
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Going through the pics I found some that might be worthwhile sharing at the moment.

There is a sick-looking apple orchard to the right. I don't know enough yet but many of the apple trees appear diseased. In the background is the chicken coop with the stable/corral behind. And to the left out of shot is a rock-walled raised flower bed. This is the main 'lawn' region and the owners main candidate for turning into an edible landscape.


The lake. I probably can't touch this 'beach' bit, but the rest of the shoreline is mine to play with.


The forest in fall.


Our boring raised beds for the main veggie garden near the entrance gate, so this bit in particular has to look 'good'. Filled with trucked-in topsoil. Ugh.



 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9740
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Stick a bunch of flowers and herbs along with the veg in those raised beds and I bet they'll look great.

Personally I would not mess with the pondside except maybe to introduce some edible pond plants like Cattail, Duck Potato, Pickerel Rush, etc. Looks like it could use some water plants around the edges there....



 
Linda Sefcik
Posts: 72
Location: Central Oklahoma
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Every so often in the forest and around the pond --
it would be nice to have a meditation or Zen area --
good for reading, bird watching, peace, reflection --
maybe some berries near by -- mellow tiny wind chimes --
beauty, -- scents,-- color, --stone design in the paths, --
light, --stained glass reflecting the morning sun, --
a shelter out of the rain; --
and interesting fruits, beautiful edibles, --
beauty should be integrated at some point in permaculture
sell bonzai plants on the side in the office
http://www.williamcorey.com/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COKPLZ1FmWg


 
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