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Planning urban food forest, zone 6B, advice please

 
Jean Silverthorn
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Location: Pittsburgh
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I have purchased some abandoned lots from the city of Pittsburgh. It is a north facing slope. The property is in a neighborhood that has been called a food dessert. I plan to sheet mulch much of the property and observe it for a year. The long term goal is to create a food forest. I need advice on how to create edges on the property to stop people from driving their cars on this land. Note the tire tracks in the photo! I would rather not put up a fence and create a fortress atmosphere. I'd like to hedge it with straw bales and plants or something else that would help reclaim the land and define the boundaries. Thanks
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Pittsburgh urban lots
 
Chris Kott
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Looks like a gentle slope. Hugelkultur makes great barriers to human and vehicle traffic. Also, I think that tall east-west oriented hugelbeets with gradual slopes on the uphill (southward) side would give you better sun exposure for select crops or guilds that need sun.

Finally, this is not a popular suggestion with permaculture traditionalists, but I think that its possible to get better observations with seeding of a mix of pasture grasses and plants. You could look up a native plant list for your area and decide based on that, selecting for species that indicate mineral and nutrient deficiencies or abundances, as well as plants that would increase soil fertility whatever you choose to do after. Doing nothing for a year might be fine if you have the time, but I think it wasteful if you're not at least establishing a proper metric for gauging your observations.

-CK
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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Hello, Jean and welcome to these forums! I really like the sound of your project and I am wondering if you will have help for something so ambitious? Lots of group knowledge here to call on and we will be looking forward to pictures of your progress.
 
Jean Silverthorn
Posts: 5
Location: Pittsburgh
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Thanks for the replies.

I hadn't thought about hugelkulture beds as a means of defining boundaries and controlling traffic. I'll give it a try. Are there other suggestions for stopping the cars and creating edges?

Another problem is knotweed. I haven't found anything on the internet about using knotweed as a nurse plant. I'm guessing its too invasive for that. That's why I'm thinking of sheet mulching most of the land although I had also thought about seeding it with white clover. I just don't know if the clover can compete with the knotweed.

This is primarily a retirement project for me. I have to work one more year before I will be able to devote a lot of time to the garden. That's why I plan to do some basic things this year and then observe the property. Next year I'll have lots of time and energy to do larger scale projects. I have friends who will help and I plan to hire some strong young people to help from time to time.

 
Chris Kott
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Japanese knotweed? Could you post pics? As far as I know, they are in the family polygonaceae, and I think they fix nitrogen, but I'm still looking for info on that. I don't know what your livestock plans are, but if you don't have any, I think that tearing out the roots is the only option available. I have them growing in the space between garages on my city lot. I use last year's dried stalks as carbon in my compost. Trying it as bedding for my worms. I would love to know if goats would eat it, or rabbits for that matter. But if its the bamboo-looking green and red plant with smooth-edged almost spade-shaped leaves, an early bloomer with a weeping-looking white cluster of blossoms that the pollinators just love, good luck doing anything but working with it.

-CK
 
Susan Mellinger
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Location: Pittsburgh PA
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Hi Jean.

I live in Pittsburgh, so I'm very curious about your food forest. Can you tell me about the location?

Other than hugelkultur berms, I might suggest large rocks/boulders along the property edge.

Thanks
Susan M.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3304
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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+1 for hugels and rocks--BIG rocks. or urbanite or concrete planters or anything scavenged from craigslist.

Hugels can be a security RISK. If you make a hiding place that can't be seen from anywhere on the road it will get used--maybe just for drinking or smoking, but maybe much worse.
 
Jean Silverthorn
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Location: Pittsburgh
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I don't have pics of the knotweed. Will post as it grows. How does one work with it? No plans for livestock.

It seems like low hugelkuture raised beds and urbanite are the way to go for now to stop the cars. I take the point about creating areas that are a bit too private and a security risk.

Susan, look for a private message. Glad to find another Pittsburgher here.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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